Agriculture leaders urged to be more proactive on animal ag issues

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Arlington, VA. April 29 – The attacks on animal agriculture aren’t likely to go away, so livestock industry advocates need to be better prepared to push back with the correct information, work in broader coalitions and be more proactive.

Those were some of the key messages delivered during the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 9th Annual Stakeholders Summit: “Truth, Lies and Videotape: Is Activism Jeopardizing Our Food Security?”

One of the greatest challenges facing agriculture is getting good information out to the people who need it, said Congressman David Scott (D-GA). He acknowledged that “there is no better incentive than to keep your animals well. It’s your business.”

Scott noted that several of his colleagues don’t understand how animals are raised in modern production systems. He described a bill introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter that would ban the use of subtherapeutic antibiotics, as “very dangerous.”

 “Why would be want to take away such a valuable tool?” he asked about her bill, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009, HR. 1549.

Dr. Randy Singer, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, provided an overview of how antibiotics work and why he is also so concerned about the Slaughter bill. .

When you take away the option of using low-doses of antibiotics over the long term, the other option for treatment is a short-term, high dose. “That model scares me,” Singer says.

Some people believe that, when you cut antibiotic use in hog production as they did in Denmark, you will see a return to the pasture-based family farm, explained Singer. “That’s a myth. Between 1995 and 2005, the number of swine operations in Denmark actually declined from 25,000 to 10,000,” he added.

Wesley Smith's latest book is "A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy: The human cost of the Animal
Rights movement" in which he chronicles the animal rights movement and criticizes their tactics.

Author Wesley Smith also encouraged participants to do a better job of explaining animal husbandry and connect the benefits of animal production to feeding hungry people.

 “Animal rights is not about animal welfare,” he emphasized. “They [activist groups] think you are evil, don’t want to look at any of the benefits of producing healthy animals.”

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