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Animal Welfare

Since 1987, the Animal Agriculture Alliance has helped consumers better understand the role animal agriculture plays in providing a safe, abundant food supply to a growing world. By speaking with a common voice, the Alliance ensures that consistent, accurate messages based on sound science are communicated to the public. To promote animal well-being and produce animal food products of the highest quality, the Alliance recommends adherence to vital Animal Care Principles that are outlined by each species group individually. 

The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is a nationally coordinated, state-specific program that provides cattle farmers and ranchers in every segment of the industry the principles, tools and education to ensure proper cattle care and raise the best quality beef possible. Read more.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), in conjunction with Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), introduced the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management™ (FARM) Program in October 2009. The FARM program is designed to assure the quality, safety and wholesomeness of dairy products. Read more.

Due to advances in technology and research, veal producers announced in 2007 that all veal farms will be transitioned into a group housing barn system by 2017. The American veal industry estimates that in 2012, 60 percent of veal calves were raised in group housing barns. Veal farmers place animal care as a top priority on their farms to ensure safe, wholesome, high-quality products for consumers. Read more.

To assist individuals and companies who produce and process chickens for food, the National Chicken Council (NCC) developed the NCC Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist for Broilers and Broiler Breeders. These guidelines have been widely adopted across the chicken industry and are commonly used by customers the chicken industry serves. These guidelines cover every phase of a chicken's life including hatching, on-farm, transportation and processing. Read more.

The United Egg Producers (UEP) developed its first hen care guidelines in the early 1980s. UEP Certified was launched in 2002 as science-based animal well-being standards based on recommendations from an independent and unpaid Scientific Advisory Committee. UEP continues to convene this committee to evaluate hen well-being standards, review existing research, conduct new research and recommend best practices. The UEP Certified guidelines were last updated in 2016. The majority of American egg farmers voluntarily participate in UEP Certified, choosing to open their farms to independent auditors. Eggs from farms that participate in the UEP Certified program feature the UEP Certified seal on the egg carton. Read more. 

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) developed guidelines in 1990 to promote humane turkey production. The Animal Care Best Management Practices (AC-BMP) manual was developed as a guideline for humane production and slaughter practices and was last updated in September 2012. Read more

The Sheep Care Guide, sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), was originally published in 1996. The 2005 edition has been updated and expanded to include new research findings regarding animal care. The Sheep Care Guide provides sheep producers with research-based guidelines to assist them in providing optimum care for their sheep in areas such as: Nutrition, Facilities and Handling, Animal Health, Transportation and Managing Predation. Read more.

The Pork Checkoff's Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program was introduced in 2007 to demonstrate the commitment of U.S. pork producers make to providing pork that is safe, high quality and responsibly produced. PQA Plus provides guidelines for providing proper care to ensure swine well-being with curriculum that specifically addresses caretaker training, animal observation, emergency back-up support, space allocation, timely euthanasia, facilities, handling and movement, ventilation and air quality and zero tolerance for willful acts of abuse. Read more

The Safe Feed, Safe Food (SF/SF) Certification Program was created in 2004 by the American Feed Industry Association to demonstrate and ensure continuous improvement in the delivery of a safe and wholesome feed supply for the growth and care of animals. In addition AFIA has the Pet Food Manufacturing Facility Certification Program, a program designed specifically for pet food manufacturers. Read more

The U.S. meat packing industry is regulated by the Humane Slaughter Act. Federal inspectors in plants (during every minute of operation) ensure compliance with this important law and can take immediate action for violations. In 1991, the industry teamed with leading animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin to develop voluntary guidelines that took federal regulations a step further. In 1997, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and Dr. Grandin together developed an audit program to measure key factors in plants that can indicate stress. Read more

Antibiotics

Antibiotics represent an important tool that farmers and ranchers can use to ensure that their animals are both healthy and productive. The Alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by producers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide the American consumer with a high-quality source of protein. According to a recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the largest antibiotic resistance threats are not connected to the use of antibiotics to keep food animals healthy. Below are articles related to antibiotic use and the care that producers provide to their livestock.

Be in the know with GMOs

The eight genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the U.S. are corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, beets, papaya, and squash.  Of these, more than ½ of soybean harvests go towards feeding livestock. 

For over twenty years food animals have consumed genetically engineered crops, and producers have seen no difference in feed efficiency.  Between feeding genetically engineered or conventional crops, the animals’ natural digestion processes remain the same with the feed having the same biological fate. 

Monitoring all studies revolving around nutrient composition and food safety, there is no evidence that GMO crops are unsafe for animals - and those animals are therefore safe for us.  Genetically engineered DNA and protein have not been detected in the products derived from livestock raised on GM-feed, including milk, meat, and eggs.

After the mechanical processing of crops for feed and the breakdown of digestion, any fragment of DNA that could make it into animal products would be biologically insignificant as it could not encode protein. Animal protein is safe and equally nutritious. 

The nutrient profile of animal products derived from GMO-fed livestock is the same as that from non GMO-fed livestock; if they weren’t equal, or the safety was questionable, that’s when the FDA would require mandatory labeling.

 

Click below to read about research gained at UC Davis in support of the safety of GMO consumption.
http://bit.ly/1Ctod46 

Quick Facts about Antibiotics

Fact: Animal antibiotics make our food supply safer and people healthier. Antibiotics are a critical tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals.

Fact: For more than 40 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. Veterinarians work with farmers to use these products in a manner that provides consumers with the safest food possible.

Fact: Because antibiotic resistance is a public health concern, several layers of protection have been put in place to ensure that animal antibiotics do not affect public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with the veterinary community, animal health companies and farmers, have an effective process in place to protect human health.

Fact: Banning or severely restricting the use of antimicrobials in animals may negatively impact a veterinarian's ability to protect animal health and prevent suffering from disease, which can lead to poor animal welfare.

Fact: Research has shown that as rates of animal illnesses increase, so do rates of human illness.

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

The presence of a residue in meat does not indicate antibacterial resistance. The two are separate issues. If resistance is detected, this means that there are bacteria on the meat that have tested resistant to one or more antibiotics. Resistance is measured and reported through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). If resistance is detected, that does not mean there are residues; likewise, if a residue is found, that does not mean that there are resistant bacteria to that antibiotic.

Sustainability

The topic of responsible and sustainable animal agriculture has received a lot of attention in recent years, but these concepts are nothing new to the American farmer. Given the rise of social media and the increased interest in food production by consumers, the people asking questions about sustainability are not just neighbors, friends and relatives, but include audiences around the globe. This puts animal agriculture under increased scrutiny and means that farmers have to put far more emphasis on the social side of sustainability than ever before. The 2016 Advances in Animal Agriculture report is available here

Resource Library

For more information on any of the topics addressed above, or for a variety of historical information compiled by the Alliance, please visit our resource library. Begin your search here.