This Saturday America's pig farmers will reaffirm their commitment to responsible antibiotic use in celebration of the global One Health Day, a collaborative effort to cultivate the connection between people, animals, plants and their shared environment to achieve the best health outcomes for all.
“Every day, U.S. pig farmers work diligently to ensure their animal’s health and well-being while embracing environmental stewardship to mutually benefit all,” says National Pork Board president Steve Rommereim, a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “One Health Day is a good opportunity to share with the public that we are committed to using antibiotics responsibly and to doing our part to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.”
A specific One Health Global Initiative example within pork production is the focus on responsible antibiotic use among animal, human and environmental health disciplines and institutions to minimize antimicrobial resistance.
“There is no single factor driving antimicrobial resistance; it is a complex issue with human, animal and environmental health all contributing to the outcome,” says Heather Fowler, Pork Checkoff director of producer and public health. “That’s why a transdisciplinary approach like One Health is essential to ensure optimal health well into the future.”
As part of the third annual One Health Day, Fowler will present the keynote lecture at the 2018 Iowa One Health Symposium on Nov. 3, at Iowa State University. The daylong event will bring together veterinary, medical and public health students and related professionals to discuss how the One Health approach can drive positive change across all sectors.
Fowler points to the pork industry’s embrace of One Health’s tenets as a major reason for her career path that’s led her to the NPB.
“It was certainly a driving force behind my interest as a public health veterinarian to seek out proactive organizations, such as the National Pork Board, that take their responsibility to heart to meet important issues such as antimicrobial resistance head-on,” Fowler says.
In keeping with their ongoing path of continuous improvement, U.S. pig farmers have allocated about $6.5 million of Checkoff funds to research related to antibiotic studies since 2000. In 2018 alone, the Pork Checkoff funded nearly $400,000 across multiple research areas to evaluate antibiotic alternatives and other methods to minimize on-farm antibiotic use.
The Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification program, now approaching its third decade, is another example of the pork industry’s long-term commitment to antibiotic stewardship while maximizing animal health and well-being. NPB also continues to collaborate with the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge. The yearlong effort provides an avenue for governments, private industries and non-governmental organizations worldwide to make formal commitments that further the progress against antimicrobial resistance.
“It’s in everyone’s best interests to maintain the effectiveness of antimicrobials because they are extremely valuable tools,” Rommereim says. “Pig farmers are committed to raising healthy hogs and to supplying safe, nutritious, affordable pork for U.S. and global consumers. We’re all in this together.”
One Health Day helps broaden the discussion and shares pig farmers’ message with the public.
“You don’t have to be a health professional to participate or make an impact,” Fowler says. “Pork producers implement One Health practices every day as they make production decisions on their farms and work to make a positive impact on the health of people, pigs and the planet.”