Today, more than 180,000 letters signed by concerned citizens across the United States were hand-delivered to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sending a clear message: antibiotics are a vital foundation of public health in the United States and should not be misused to prop up an industrial system of livestock production that puts us all at risk.
The letters, collected by Farm Aid and a broad coalition of consumer and family farm groups, were in response to the agency's request for comments on rules governing the use of antibiotics on industrial farms.
For years, Farm Aid has been warning about the dangers of industrial or "factory farm" livestock operations and their impact on family farms, the environment and our health. Chickens, pigs, and beef cattle raised on industrial farms are routinely fed antibiotics to make them grow faster and compensate for overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions. In other words, to keep industrial farms as productive and profitable as possible, animals are fed a diet of drugs — the same drugs we rely on to keep ourselves and our families in good health.
This overuse of antibiotics creates stronger and more drug-resistant bacteria that can cause tragic results. Serious, painful illnesses and even death are too often the outcome in both vulnerable and healthy individuals. At Farm Aid, we understand that antibiotics have a place on the farm — when they're needed to treat sick animals, not to promote an industrial system that compromises animal health, human health and the livelihood of family farmers who manage their animals more responsibly.
Thanks to all our supporters who participated in this critical campaign. Although the formal comment process has now closed, we will continue to collect and submit signatures to demonstrate the overwhelming public support for responsible livestock care and protecting human health by limiting antibiotic use in animal feed.
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Want to learn more? Check out Farm Aid Farmer Hero Russ Kremer's inspiring personal story about the threats of antibiotic resistance and his transition to more sustainable methods on his hog farm in Osage County, Missouri.