The National Pork Board, led by a 15-member executive board of U.S. pig farmers, is pleased to celebrate global One Health Day, Nov. 3, by reaffirming its commitment to its core value of doing what’s right for the overall health of people, pigs and the planet.
“We have a proud history of raising pigs in ways that go beyond simple animal health and that are mutually beneficial to human and environmental health,” says National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pig farmer from North Carolina. “We see One Health Day as a good time to reflect on our accomplishments, such as using antibiotics responsibly and embracing the updated Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification program.”
With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s upcoming ban on using medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in food animals on Jan. 1, 2017, together with the mandate for increased veterinarian oversight of antibiotic use, Archer says consumers can be assured that America’s pig farmers are committed to antibiotic stewardship, animal well-being and food safety.
“We are always looking for ways to do what’s right for our animals, our consumers and our environment,” Archer says. “We want people to know that we’ll continue to do our part as we seek new ways to reduce the overall need for antibiotics. At the same time, we need to retain antibiotics as essential tools for veterinarians and farmers to help continue to raise healthy livestock and produce safe food.”
Archer notes that the NPB has invested more than $6 million in Pork Checkoff funds toward antibiotic-related research since 2000. The board also has spent $750,000 this year in five research priority areas specifically aimed at reducing antibiotic resistance and finding antibiotic alternatives.
On the environmental front, U.S. pig farmers have made great strides over the past 50 years as demonstrated by the findings of a study conducted with the help of the University of Arkansas. Per pound of pork produced, pork’s carbon footprint decreased 35%, its water usage fell 41% and its land footprint plunged 78%.
“When it comes to demonstrating leadership in the area of One Health, it’s clear that American pig farmers are doing more than talking about it,” says Bill Even, CEO of the NPB. “In terms of collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams and with other industries, our farmers are helping lead the conversation on tough topics, such as how to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria while preserving these valuable tools for responsible on-farm use.”
Even notes that the NPB’s three-point antibiotic stewardship plan, announced in mid-2015, already has delivered on its pledge of promoting research, pig farmer education and consumer and influencer outreach during 2016. The Antibiotic Resource Center is an example of efforts to assist farmers.
“Real, substantive change is under way on pig farms across America with the farmers themselves shaping the discussion around responsible antibiotic use,” Archer says. “We’re ready to implement the new, more stringent FDA rules when they take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, and we’ll continue to work with any group that truly wants to collaborate with us in good faith to make the One Health vision of better global health for people, animals and the environment a reality.”