The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production has released six broad recommendations resulting from its two-year study of the U.S. animal agriculture industry. "After reviewing the recommendations, we feel important clarifications are in order," says Kay Johnson Smith, Executive Vice President, Animal Agriculture Alliance.
She went on to make the following points:
* First and foremost, the animal agriculture industry has always been willing to meet and talk openly and transparently with our stakeholders to address areas of shared concern, including those aspects of our industry where improvements will provide a beneficial impact to our customers and the communities where we operate.
* Despite our best efforts, we were not a meaningful part of the commission's activities. Much of the information and many of the experts offered to the commission were apparently either ignored or not used by the commission when formulating its recommendations. Highly respected experts from major land-grant universities who either made presentations to the commission or conducted research at its request stated that they felt the commissioners had pre-conceived notions about the U.S. livestock industry.
* The commission's mission statement promised the public it would conduct a ''comprehensive, fact-based and balanced examination'' of the issues. We find it hard to understand how these final recommendations were made when the commission has only released one of the six technical reports (written by subject matter experts the commission selected). In our opinion, the commission did not live up to its promise. In fact, the draft recommendations were written before any of the technical reports commissioned by PCIFAP were submitted or reviewed.
* The information released by the commission is not new. It is based largely on old data and the opinions of the commissioners. It ignores the fact that antibiotics are used in a safe and responsible manner in the livestock, dairy and poultry industries and that a ban is completely uncalled-for. The Food and Drug Administration has science-based procedures in place that are far preferable to the politically driven Pew process.
* The report also largely ignores the many positive initiatives our industry has developed in recent years. These initiatives include the pork industry's PQA Plus program that includes components for responsible use of antibiotics, food safety and animal transportation, the National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative designed to bring consistency to animal care practices across the country, the American Feed Industry Association's ''Safe Feed - Safe Food'' program and the United Egg Producers Certification program, an animal care program approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among many others. These initiatives are in addition to literally thousands of regulations that ensure our operations comply with federal, state and local laws. You can learn more about our industry's efforts at www.animalagalliance.org.
* One area where we agree with the commission is that our country's animal-agriculture industry cannot go back to what many people perceive as ''the good old days'' of smaller operations. With a growing global population that many project will add three billion more mouths to feed over the next 30 years, we need our livestock producers more than ever.
* Our industry welcomes open and transparent discussions that lead to beneficial changes, not biased reports that don't offer new solutions for food production. We extend an invitation to the Commission to meet with us, after the long-promised technical reports are released and reviewed. Our hope is that we can engage in an open and transparent discussion that will achieve our shared objective of providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply.
Other animal-ag industry related groups who signed on in support of Animal Agricultural Alliance's response, include:
American Farm Bureau Federation
National Chicken Council
National Milk Producers Federation
National Pork Producers Council
National Turkey Federation
Source: The Animal Agriculture Alliance