Farmers Disagree on Antibiotic Use

6 years 11 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, December 30 2010 Dec 30, 2010 Thursday, December 30, 2010 3:27:34 PM CST December 30, 2010 in News
Cattle farmer Jay Schutte said most dairy farmers are already administering antibiotics responsibly. Schutte feeds out about 600 cattle a year.

"We do use blanket antibiotics when animals are young and are exposed to a lot of germs and a new environment," Schutte said.

Schutte said most of the antibiotics he gives his cattle are not of a family of antibiotics humans need. This means his cattle could not lead to antibiotic resistance that could harm humans.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when farmers or veterinarians administer too much of certain antibiotics into an animal's system. Eventually, the bacteria the antibiotics were meant to fight off become stronger and resistant to the antibiotics. The FDA worries antibiotics in some food animals remain in the food that humans consume and lead to antibiotic resistance in humans as well. This led to FDA creating new recommendations for antibiotic use in food animals. The new guidelines recommend antibiotics only be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian and when an animal's life is in danger.

Schutte said there is not enough unbiased research to back up new FDA recommendations.

But, on another, smaller Mid-Missouri farm, one man disagrees. Steve Landry has about 50 cattle he feeds out each year to local chains of grocery stores. He only feeds the cattle grass and maintains a large pasture of grass where the animals roam from various patches of grass to stay nourished. Landry said the FDA and lawmakers should do more to ensure antibiotics are not used merely to make animals grow and make a profit.

"There is enough acerage in this country to grass feed beef for everyone. It could be done if the public demanded it," Landry said.

Schutte said he tried grass feeding in the past and could not make enough profit on his larger dairy farm.

"There's probably some unscrupulous people out there and they need to be dealt with... The agriculture industry is not unique in that regard," Schutte said.

The FDA has presented recommendations to U.S. lawmakers for their consideration.

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