Various thoughts – September 2011

Your investment in Farm Bureau helps support one of the most important industries in America and Wyoming.  Wyoming agricultural producers provide food in abundant quantities so that we don’t have to be concerned about whether we can relax on the weekends or have to worry about how the crops are doing. 

The agricultural producer in Wyoming does this at a cost that allows American consumers to spend less on purchasing their food than any other country in the world.  September is the kick-off for the county Farm Bureau’s membership year.  Members will be receiving their billing notification in the mail if they haven’t already had them show up.

 Supporting your county Farm Bureau helps keep Wyoming strong.

 A headline with a hidden agenda

Recently there has been an effort by some policy makers to remove or greatly restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock.  These actions would have more credibility if the proponents weren’t some of the same ones who have been critical of livestock production in the past.  One can’t help but wonder if they are concerned about antibiotic resistance or if they just want to eliminate livestock production. 

In these discussions there has been a lot of hyperbole about how the use of antibiotics in livestock production has resulted in antibiotic resistance in humans.  It is one of those issues that needs to be closely examined – and politics and personal agendas should be left on the sidelines.  The livestock industry will step up to the plate if good science shows we need to adopt new management practices, but to  try to eliminate antibiotics for livestock production, as some anti-livestock advocates have done, without looking at other factors which lead to resistance is disingenuous.

If these folks are critical of antibiotics used in animal production then they should be apoplectic over the sale of antibiotic cleansers and hand washes sold in the millions of gallons in the U.S.  So far I’ve not seen any headlines to that effect.  We’ve also seen studies pointing the finger at misuse of antibiotics in the medical profession.  Got a cold, get an antibiotic.  Got a cut, get an antibiotic.  Got a fever, get an antibiotic. 

Sometimes nature just comes up with some of these on her own.

Many of these factors may contribute to increases in antibiotic resistance.  If it was so simple as to blame agriculture then one has to wonder about the new strain of Salmonella superbug on the rise in Europe which has its heritage in Africa.  I may be wrong, but I don’t exactly think of African agriculture as one where animals are routinely administered antibiotics.   So a superbug Salmonella can’t be blamed on the use of antibiotics in the livestock industry. 

Good science should be used instead of good headlines.

Another illogical headline

Another headline I recently ran across from the Chicago Sun-Times proclaimed that “Healthy eating is privilege of the rich.”  According to this article the new updated dietary guidelines could add at least an additional $380 per year.  Now I don’t know if an additional $1 per day would place healthy eating into the realm of the rich, but an article in The New York Times talks about an ongoing study into longevity which found that many of the centenarians studied have just as many bad habits as the rest of us.  Many smoked, drank and were overweight.  So, according to that study save the $380 a year so you can get rich and eat, drink and be merry.  Of course, given the cost of a pack of cigarettes you may still need to give up smoking in order to get rich.

By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President

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