Today I participated in an Austin event to launch a new national campaign calling on McDonald’s to commit to a concrete timeline to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in its beef and pork supply chains. Here was my statement:
“My family has been farming in Texas since the late 1800s. I grew up on my grandfather’s farm near Temple, where we raised corn, cotton, and a small head of cattle. The only time we use antibiotics was when our livestock were sick. Our cattle ate grass in the summer and hay in the winter, and concentrated feed pellets on accasion. But none of that feed contained antibiotics. We raised health cattle that we sold at market and ate ourselves.
My family doesn’t actively farm anymore because large corporate operations like the kind that supply major fast-food chains have ruined the economics for family farms. And large corporate operations have done this in part by doping their livestock with antibiotic feed so that their animals don’t get sick. They have to do this because feedlots and other large livestock operations are inherently unhealthy. That’s what happens when you cram that more animals into smaller spaces.
I know that the only reason to routinely use life-saving human antibiotics is if the conditions on your farm are awful. Animals don’t require 70% of the antibiotics sold in this country to be healthy, strong, or produce a good yield.
McDonald’s can be a leader on this issue if they will commit to sourcing beef and pork only from meat farms that don’t routinely use our life-saving antibiotics. On a normal farm, this is an easy condition to achieve.
We certainly don’t want to outlaw the use of antibiotics to save the lives of the animals. But we’re currently using a majority of the antibiotics sold in the country to prevent livestock illness. That’s flirting with disaster, and it just plain doesn’t make sense.
I hope McDonald’s will commit to the change.”