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Keeping Producers in the Animal Antibiotic Conversation

Farmers, ranchers and veterinarians across the U.S. are finding their animal health practices under increasing scrutiny from consumers who are concerned about the impact of antibiotic practices in the cattle industry. Consumers continue to look for the “antibiotic-free” label when shopping for groceries.1 In fact, according to the most recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) Food & Health Survey, 25 percent of U.S. consumers say they regularly purchase products labeled “raised without antibiotics.” Yet, the same survey shows many consumers are concerned with animal welfare and environmental sustainability when buying foods.As industry stakeholders strive to produce the food consumers enjoy, the Beef Checkoff works to help bridge the gap, explaining to consumers how responsible antibiotic use positively affects sustainable, safe beef production and ensures the highest standards of animal care. The Beef Checkoff does this by facilitating educational and collaborative opportunities for beef producers and industry leaders to discuss antimicrobial stewardship and resistance.

One such opportunity was the 13th Annual National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) Antibiotics Symposium. Held November 7 – 9 in Atlanta, Georgia, this symposium gave animal health and human health experts the opportunity to share science‐based information and encourage an honest dialogue around a “One Health” solution. One Health recognizes human health is connected to both animal health and the environment.

At the symposium, attendees and participants received an industry report on the current state of antibiotic stewardship from producer to processor to grocer. Other presentations discussed the latest antimicrobial stewardship and resistance research, the multi-dimensional aspects of antibiotic stewardship and antimicrobial resistance (AMR,) regulatory updates, One Health collaborations and more. Speakers included:

  • Ken Opengart – Tyson Foods
  • Alex Rinkus – Health for Animals
  • Chris Gambino – The Breakthrough Institute
  • Terry Lehenbauer – University of California Davis
  • Collette Kaster – Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization
  • Andy Bishop – Cattlemen’s Beef Board
  • Chelsey Shivley – USDA APHIS
  • Catherine Rockwell – USDA FSIS
  • Susan Jennings – EPA
  • Karen Smith – Association of State & Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
  • Cameron Bess, PhD – Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA)

Kristy Arnold headhsotThis event is unique because it engages audiences across multiple industries and focuses, with producers at the forefront of this event actively participating in conversations. One such producer was Cattlemen’s Beef Board member Kristy Arnold from Screven, Georgia. As a third-generation owner and operator of her cow/calf operation, Arnold knows firsthand the need for responsible antibiotic use on the ranch.

“We, as the beef industry, are contributors to AMR, and producers must take a seat at the table where the conversations are happening,” Arnold said. “We must identify the problem, find the cause and discover what works to fix it.”
Many producers already practice antibiotic stewardship by following Beef Quality Assurance guidelines, but there is still room to grow and take an active role in the antibiotic conversation. “At the symposium, after getting all of the information and hearing speakers talk about how important antibiotic stewardship is to human and public health, it made it more a ‘here and now’ realization for me,” Arnold said.

By bringing diverse audiences together, the symposium helped members of the animal agriculture industry build valuable relationships with influential stakeholders who can advocate for responsible antibiotic use on the farm and in the veterinary clinic. “Beef producers are the ‘boots on the ground’ and must be informed and motivated to act to enhance stewardship, protect the environment and health of our animals,” Arnold said.

To further encourage beef producers to continue the antibiotic conversation, NIAA has Checkoff-funded Producer Toolkits and resources needed to proactively engage with audiences on antibiotic practices and usage. The content is intended to generate ideas and help producers find their voices to tell their food and agriculture stories.

To download the toolkit and get more antibiotic informational tools, visit:

  1. Beef Attributes Research Package, Midan Marketing: Claims and Attributes For Meat Consumers Report | Midan

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