Farmers Speak Out to Stop the Spread of Superbugs

The inappropriate use of human antibiotics on factory farms is seen as one of the culprits in the 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths caused by drug-resistant bacteria each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.(1)

Please join with other Maryland farmers who are lending their voices to help ban routine, widespread use of human antibiotics in animals that are not sick.

In January 2016, a bill will be reintroduced in the Maryland Legislature to ban the routine use of medically important human antibiotics for animals that are not sick. Along with public health experts, farmers are the most important voices in this critical conversation. If policy change occurs around agricultural antibiotic use, it will likely be because farmers like you had the courage to speak out.

Take a stand in support of a safe and healthy Maryland by signing your name to this petition today.

Dear Lawmakers:

As farmers, we care about our livestock, our land, and the food, water, and air we all share. We also care about the health of our families and communities. For these reasons, we urge you to throw your full support behind efforts to curb the widespread overuse of human antibiotics in animal agriculture. Simply put, it’s time to eliminate the practice of routinely giving human antibiotics to healthy animals on large farms—before it’s too late. Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotic drugs is vital to protecting both human and animal health.

According to a Pew Charitable Trust analysis of 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration data, 70% of the medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are sold for use to raise chickens, hogs, and cattle on large farms. Much of this use is not for the treatment of sick animals. In fact, many food animals are fed a routine dose of antibiotics to help them gain weight or to prevent disease caused by unhealthy and unsanitary conditions.(2)

This massive, untargeted use of antibiotics accelerates the development of “nightmare” drug-resistant bacteria, which can then find their way to human populations through contaminated food, airborne dust blowing off farms, and water or soil polluted with contaminated feces.

Children, patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer, complex surgeries, dialysis and organ and bone marrow transplants are at increased risk of acquiring many of these infections and of severe complications.(3) Limiting antibiotic use in agriculture, according to public health experts, could reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

A poll commissioned by Consumer Reports and released by Consumers Union and Maryland PIRG, found that the overwhelming majority of doctors –a total of 93 percent—are concerned about the common meat industry practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention.(4)

Farming is not one-size-fits-all. But we are proof that it is possible to farm without the misuse of human antibiotics. And we are not alone. The Netherlands is roughly the size of Maryland, but its livestock-raising is intensive and high-tech: 17 million people and about 118 million farm animals share a space. Yet, the Netherlands is Europe’s leading meat exporter and antibiotics are not allowed for preventative dosing and are only given to farmers to treat animals after a veterinary inspection. These policies have not harmed either animal welfare or farm profits.(5)

Several big poultry companies are leading the way, meeting consumer demands by phasing out human antibiotics. But when the stakes are this high, we cannot wait for the entire industry to do the right thing and voluntarily follow suit.

If we want to keep antibiotics working for future generations, we need you to act now.

Sincerely,

Carole Morison, Birds Eye View Farm

Caroline Taylor, Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Dick Stoner, Stoner Family Farms, LLC

Cleo Braver, Cottingham Farm

JoAnn Coates-Hunter, Fox Haven Organic Farm

Kim Wagner, Black Bottom Farm

Carol Rollman, Sycamore Spring Farm

Nick Bailey, Grand View Farm

Shannon Wilson, Sycamore Spring Farm

Debra Speyer, Shoulderbone Farms

Sally Heber, Shadows of Catoctin Farm

Ben Sayler, Pleasant Hill Produce

Becky Dosh, Wilkes Ohara Farms

Holly Budd, Pushaw Station Pastures

John Dove, Love Dove Farms

Amanda Paul, Leaning Pine Farm, Inc.

Tim Stewart, Spring Dell Farm

Devora Kimelman-Block, KOL Foods

Michael Singleton, Blacksauce Foods

Miranda Betts, Farm to Face

Mark Reynolds, Waverly Place Farmer’s Market (farmer stand)

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013: p 24
  2. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2012/08/09/human-health-and-industrial-farming-101
  3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013: p 24
  4. http://marylandpirg.org/news/mdp/new-poll-reveals-overwhelming-majority-doctors-concerned-about-antibiotics-use-healthy-foods
  5. http://modernfarmer.com/2014/06/abstinence-method/

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