Since 1987, the Animal Agriculture Alliance has helped consumers better understand the role animal agriculture plays in providing a safe, abundant food supply to a growing world. By speaking with a common voice, the Alliance ensures that consistent, accurate messages based on sound science are communicated to the public. To promote animal well-being and produce animal food products of the highest quality, the Alliance recommends adherence to vital Animal Care Principles that are outlined by each species group individually.
The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is a nationally coordinated, state-specific program that provides cattle farmers and ranchers in every segment of the industry the principles, tools and education to ensure proper cattle care and raise the best quality beef possible. Read more.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), in conjunction with Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), introduced the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management™ (FARM) Program in October 2009. The FARM program is designed to assure the quality, safety and wholesomeness of dairy products. Read more.
Due to advances in technology and research, veal producers announced in 2007 that all veal farms will be transitioned into a group housing barn system by 2017. The American veal industry estimates that in 2012, 60 percent of veal calves were raised in group housing barns. Veal farmers place animal care as a top priority on their farms to ensure safe, wholesome, high-quality products for consumers. Read more.
To assist individuals and companies who produce and process chickens for food, the National Chicken Council (NCC) developed the NCC Animal Welfare Guidelines and Audit Checklist for Broilers and Broiler Breeders. These guidelines have been widely adopted across the chicken industry and are commonly used by customers the chicken industry serves. These guidelines cover every phase of a chicken's life including hatching, on-farm, transportation and processing. Read more.
The United Egg Producers (UEP) developed its first hen care guidelines in the early 1980s. UEP Certified was launched in 2002 as science-based animal well-being standards based on recommendations from an independent and unpaid Scientific Advisory Committee. UEP continues to convene this committee to evaluate hen well-being standards, review existing research, conduct new research and recommend best practices. The UEP Certified guidelines were last updated in 2016. The majority of American egg farmers voluntarily participate in UEP Certified, choosing to open their farms to independent auditors. Eggs from farms that participate in the UEP Certified program feature the UEP Certified seal on the egg carton. Read more.
The National Turkey Federation (NTF) developed guidelines in 1990 to promote humane turkey production. The Animal Care Best Management Practices (AC-BMP) manual was developed as a guideline for humane production and slaughter practices and was last updated in September 2012. Read more.
The Sheep Care Guide, sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), was originally published in 1996. The 2005 edition has been updated and expanded to include new research findings regarding animal care. The Sheep Care Guide provides sheep producers with research-based guidelines to assist them in providing optimum care for their sheep in areas such as: Nutrition, Facilities and Handling, Animal Health, Transportation and Managing Predation. Read more.
The Pork Checkoff's Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program was introduced in 2007 to demonstrate the commitment of U.S. pork producers make to providing pork that is safe, high quality and responsibly produced. PQA Plus provides guidelines for providing proper care to ensure swine well-being with curriculum that specifically addresses caretaker training, animal observation, emergency back-up support, space allocation, timely euthanasia, facilities, handling and movement, ventilation and air quality and zero tolerance for willful acts of abuse. Read more.
The Safe Feed, Safe Food (SF/SF) Certification Program was created in 2004 by the American Feed Industry Association to demonstrate and ensure continuous improvement in the delivery of a safe and wholesome feed supply for the growth and care of animals. In addition AFIA has the Pet Food Manufacturing Facility Certification Program, a program designed specifically for pet food manufacturers. Read more.
The U.S. meat packing industry is regulated by the Humane Slaughter Act. Federal inspectors in plants (during every minute of operation) ensure compliance with this important law and can take immediate action for violations. In 1991, the industry teamed with leading animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin to develop voluntary guidelines that took federal regulations a step further. In 1997, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and Dr. Grandin together developed an audit program to measure key factors in plants that can indicate stress. Read more.
Guide to Animal Handling and Employee Training for Livestock Auction Markets
The Guide to Animal Handling and Employee Training for Livestock Auction Markets is provided by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) and designed to serve as a tool to assist their members in following a structured animal handling and employee education program. Revised in 2014, the handbook includes guidlines on how to manage livestock in movement, injured or nonmobile animals. While the types of livestock and facility styles vary, the animal handling techniques outlined in the program are important for all livestock market owners, managers and employees to follow. Read more.
Antibiotics represent an important tool that farmers and ranchers can use to ensure that their animals are both healthy and productive. The Alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by producers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide the American consumer with a high-quality source of protein. According to a recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the largest antibiotic resistance threats are not connected to the use of antibiotics to keep food animals healthy. Below are articles related to antibiotic use and the care that producers provide to their livestock.
Quick Facts about Antibiotics
Fact: Animal antibiotics make our food supply safer and people healthier. Antibiotics are a critical tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals.
Fact: For more than 40 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. Veterinarians work with farmers to use these products in a manner that provides consumers with the safest food possible.
Fact: Because antibiotic resistance is a public health concern, several layers of protection have been put in place to ensure that animal antibiotics do not affect public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with the veterinary community, animal health companies and farmers, have an effective process in place to protect human health.
Fact: Banning or severely restricting the use of antimicrobials in animals may negatively impact a veterinarian's ability to protect animal health and prevent suffering from disease, which can lead to poor animal welfare.
Fact: Research has shown that as rates of animal illnesses increase, so do rates of human illness.
Curious about antibiotic use on farms?
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
The presence of a residue in meat does not indicate antibacterial resistance. The two are separate issues. If resistance is detected, this means that there are bacteria on the meat that have tested resistant to one or more antibiotics. Resistance is measured and reported through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). If resistance is detected, that does not mean there are residues; likewise, if a residue is found, that does not mean that there are resistant bacteria to that antibiotic.
The topic of responsible and sustainable animal agriculture has received a lot of attention in recent years, but these concepts are nothing new to the American farmer. Given the rise of social media and the increased interest in food production by consumers, the people asking questions about sustainability are not just neighbors, friends and relatives, but include audiences around the globe. This puts animal agriculture under increased scrutiny and means that farmers have to put far more emphasis on the social side of sustainability than ever before. The 2016 Advances in Animal Agriculture report is available here.
What is Sustainability?
The meaning of sustainability has been subjected to a variety of interpretations, but it is critical to understand that sustainability is a continuous journey, rather than a destination.
To those in agriculture, sustainability means using natural resources efficiently; caring for the land, air, water and wildlife.
Livestock production in the United States is a model for the rest of the world for several reasons: (1) we use advance genetics; (2) we use advanced healthcare; and (3) we feed our animals optimal diets.
Recent Sustainability Studies
Be in the know with GMOs
The nine crops in the U.S. available from GMO seeds are: alfalfa, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash, and sugar beets. Of these, more than ½ of soybean harvests go towards feeding livestock.
For over twenty years food animals have consumed genetically engineered crops, and producers have seen no difference in feed efficiency. Between feeding genetically engineered or conventional crops, the animals’ natural digestion processes remain the same with the feed having the same biological outcome.
Monitoring all studies revolving around nutrient composition and food safety, there is no evidence that GMO crops are unsafe for animals - and those animals are therefore safe for us. Genetically engineered DNA and protein have not been detected in the products derived from livestock raised on GM-feed, including milk, meat, and eggs.
After the mechanical processing of crops for feed and the breakdown of digestion, any fragment of DNA that could make it into animal products would be biologically insignificant as it could not encode protein. Animal protein is safe and equally nutritious.
The nutrient profile of animal products derived from GMO-fed livestock is the same as that from non GMO-fed livestock; if they weren’t equal, or the safety was questionable, that’s when the FDA would require mandatory labeling.
Click below to read about research gained at UC Davis in support of the safety of GMO consumption.
Have you heard activist organizations pushing for us to eat meatless meals at home, in the workplace and in school cafeterias? But did you know going meatless is not a shortcut to saving the planet or eating healthy and may actually do more harm than good? Especially when you consider that removing meat from meals every Monday means reducing the ability to make informed food choices, and for some children could mean denying them access to the only nutrient dense food they may have all day.
Meat Myths - Busted!
The Truth about Why Meat Consumption is Essential for Optimal Health
BY: JENNIFER M. LEHESKA, PH.D., R.D., L.D. - 2014
When it comes to diet and nutrition it seems that everyone is mad about meat these days for one reason or another. Red meat became the red-headed stepchild in the American diet due to its association with saturated fat after early animal and human studies (1950-60’s) established a positive correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease risk factors. This led to a nationwide fat scare that became the basis of the dietary recommendations in the U.S. over the past 50 years. This combined with the growth of animal activist groups working to turn American’s to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has caused additional fear and confusion for U.S. consumers.
The True Impact of Animal Agriculture on the Environment
BY: JUDE CAPPER, PH.D.
A famous proverb states “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” The global population currently comprises over seven billion people and is predicted to rise to over nine billion by the year 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). We will not have any extra land, water or fossil fuels in the future, indeed, we will have fewer resources for food production as the population increases, due to competition for housing and urban development. The question therefore arises as to how we should ensure that our children and grandchildren have the same access to food that we currently enjoy?
What’s MEATLESS MONDAY?
Today’s Meatless Monday campaign is not what it seems. It’s not a grassroots effort to celebrate healthy eating. This well-funded campaign pushes an unbalanced animal rights and environmental agenda by promoting false claims about animal agriculture.
During World Wars I and II, the U.S. government encouraged Americans to help the war effort by rationing key food staples. Today’s Meatless Monday campaign attempts to associate itself with this patriotic duty, but it is not a governmental effort.
This carefully orchestrated campaign seeks to eliminate meat from our menus seven days a week—starting with Mondays. New York benefactor — and well known radical activist—Helaine Lerner is the primary funder of the current Meatless Monday campaign, organized through the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Lerner has been involved with the campaign’s new iteration since the beginning. (In 2002, her Mollylou Foundation initially purchased the Meatless Monday website domain name.) Between 2000 and 2003, she also gave more than $7 million to the GRACE (Global Resource Action Center for the Environment) Project, an activist organization focused on eliminating both large scale animal agriculture and nuclear weapons.
Meatless Monday seeks to eliminate consumer choice—the ability that we each have to determine the right food choices for ourselves and our families.
Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future is formally affiliated with GRACE through the HenrySpira/GRACE Project on Industrial Animal Production.
Namesake Henry Spira is considered one of the founders of the modern animal rights movement in the U.S. and was a radical opponent of both animal agriculture and life-saving medical research using animals.
In 2003, GRACE partnered with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and another vegan activist organization, Farm Sanctuary, to launch a video smear campaign against modern agriculture called The Meatrix.
The animated “Matrix” spinoff attempted to indoctrinate children with false claims against farmers and ranchers, just as the current Meatless Monday campaign seeks to today with colorful cartoons of farm animals and meatless outreach materials for use in elementary schools.
Meatless Monday seeks to eliminate consumer choice—the ability that we each have to determine the right food choices for ourselves and our families.
Are you a proud omnivore? Take the #MeatMatters pledge and tell your friends why meat matters!
Did you know?
Meat's Sustainability Story
- Compared to 1944, U.S. dairy producers use 77% less feed, 90% less land, 65% less water and have achieved a 63% reduction in the carbon footprint per gallon of milk!
- The modern U.S. beef industry uses 19% less feed, 12% less water, 33% less land and has a 16% lower carbon footprint compared to beef production in the 1970’s.
- Pork producers in the U.S. use 67% less feed than they did in 1959, with similar reductions in water use (41%), land use (22%) and carbon footprint (35%).
- The resources used to produce one dozen eggs have been cut considerably (74% less feed, 68% less water and 69% less energy) since 1960.
Nutritious AND Delicious!
- All meat and poultry are good sources of B-complex vitamins. This complex helps to metabolize macronutrients, aid in the release of energy from food and even lower bad cholesterol.
- The only way to obtain natural B12 is through animal proteins. Vitamin B12, which helps to build red blood cells, also helps metabolize carbohydrates and fats.
- Creatine, carnosine, vitamin D3 and DHA are four nutrients that are only found in meat, fish and eggs!
- Iron from meat and poultry is more readily available than iron metabolized from plant-based sources.
Click here to view or download our Meat Matters Guide!
For more information on any of the topics addressed above, or for a variety of historical information compiled by the Alliance, please visit our resource library. Begin your search here.
Myth Busting Monday: Pigs, Advancements in Farming
Tidbit Tuesday: Dairy, Carousel Milking Parlor
Tidbit Tuesday: Pig, Drying Powder
Tidbit Tuesday: Turkey Feathers
Tidbit Tuesday: Turkey, Male vs. Female Traits