Terry Stevenson’s Agricultural Weblog

A blog about news and events occuring in Canadian agriculture

Farms and Antibiotics

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An editorial in the July 24, 2009 edition of the New York Times called, “Farms and Antibiotics” strongly advocates that the way farm animals receive drugs is putting both humans and animals at risk. It suggests that because drugs are so popular within our industrialized agriculture system, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases are more likely to develop, thus rendering other drugs such as penicillin and tetracycline less effective.

 They say that restricting drug use for industrial farms would help prevent inhumane overcrowding and unhealthy conditions for the animals. The conclusion they draw is that the Federal Drug Administration should severely restrict the regular use of drugs and supplements in agriculture and allow only veterinarians to prescribe specific antibiotics to individual animals for the prevention or treatment of diseases.

 This would seem to be a very narrow view of a very large and complex issue. To start with it suggests that farmers are only interested in profits at the expense of their animals with no real serious regard for their living conditions or overall health. I’m sure across the United States and even in Canada examples can be found of some unscrupulous operators running a “factory farm” with inhumane living conditions and the unrestricted use of drugs to maximize their profits. No one would disagree that these farm operators should be dealt with and immediate corrective measures taken.

 The truth is that the overwhelming majority of these so called “industrial or factory farms” in the United Sates and Canada are very professionally run by highly ethical and responsible farmers who care deeply about their animals. They follow very strict governmental guidelines and industry standards helping to ensure that consumers receive only the very best quality and safe food for their families. Farmers provide their animals with supplements and antibiotics to help provide a healthy environment and maximize their growing potential. For the most part this all done responsibly by farmers who take great pride and care of the animals that they raise in their farming operations

 No one would argue that the correct application of any supplement or antibiotic needs to be carefully monitored not only for the health of the animals but also the safety of our food for human consumption. By all means clamp down on farm operations that ignore the rules and regulations that are currently in place for overcrowding, including excessive application of supplements and antibiotics for animals.

  Let’s remember though, that in Canada and the United States we produce some of the safest and highest quality food found anywhere in the world. This is in part because the vast majority of farmers take enormous pride in their farming operations and believe in providing the highest standards in raising their animals. Let’s not tarnish the whole farming industry in an editorial.


Written by terrystevenson

July 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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