Large-scale livestock farms risky – commission
By Marg Land
May 1, 2008, Washington, DC – A
study recently released by the Pew Commission states current
large-scale livestock production poses unacceptable risks to public
health and the environment.
May 1, 2008, Washington, DC – The current industrial farm animal production (IFAP) system often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals themselves, according to a recently released study by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) .
Based on the 2.5-year industry examination, commissioners state they have determined that the negative effects of the IFAP system are too great and the scientific evidence is too strong to ignore. Significant changes must be implemented and must start now, they state in a press release, adding that while some areas of animal agriculture have recognized these threats and have taken action, the industry has a long way to go.
The commission’s key recommendations include:
1. Banning the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics and other microbials.
2. Implementing a disease-monitoring program for food animals to allow 48-hour trace-back of those animals through aspects of their production, in a fully integrated and robust national database.
3. Treating IFAP as an industrial operation and implementing a new system to deal with farm waste to replace the system that exists today.
4. Phasing out the most intensive and inhumane production practices within a decade to reduce the risk of IFAP to public health and improve animal wellbeing (i.e., gestation crates and battery cages).
5. Amending and enforcing federal and state laws to provide a level playing field for producers when entering contracts with integrators.
6. Increasing funding for, expanding, and reforming animal agriculture research.
The goal of the commission is to sound the alarms that significant change is urgently needed in industrial farm animal production, says John Carlin, PCIFAP chairman and former Kansas governor.
“I believe that the IFAP system was first developed simply to help increase farmer productivity and that the negative effects were never intended,” he said. “Regardless, the consequences are real and serious and must be addressed.”
The PCIFAP consists of 15 commissioners from diverse fields, including public policy, veterinary medicine, public health, agriculture, animal welfare, the food industry and rural society. The Commission assessed the current state of industrial animal agriculture based on site visits to production facilities across the country; consultation with industry stakeholders, public health, medical and agriculture experts; public meetings; peer-reviewed technical reports; staff research; and Commissioners own expertise. PCIFAP is a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
For a copy of the final report, visit www.pcifap.org .