If you haven't already been bombarded by the breaking-news-of-the-day in the agriculture industry, here's a quick update: Subway Restaurant has just announced their promise to transition to using chicken raised without antibiotics in 2016 and beef and pork products raised without antibiotics by 2025.
Most farmers aren't exactly happy about this because we know one simple fact that the general public hasn't grasped yet: All meat is antibiotic-free. There are withdrawal times, UDSA/FDA testing, and other on-farm practices that guarantee this. Farmers aren't overusing antibiotics because, quite frankly, they are really expensive! Besides, we don't want antibiotics in our food, either. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be treating our sick animals with medicine just like our doctors do for us. That would be incredibly irresponsible of us as caretakers of the livestock.
But you already knew all of that.
So... What's a farmer to do?
Complain about it in the coffee shop to our neighbors? Go on angry rants and attack the people behind this PR move? Give in and quit using antibiotics altogether- thus sacrificing the well-being of our animals?
Get out there. Tell your story. Have conversations with people who have been hearing nothing but bad things about farming in the media. Make a difference.
Maybe this looks like writing a blog, posting on Facebook, giving a speech, or writing letter to the editors of your local publications. Maybe this simply looks like you talking to a handful of your friends about this issue. Whatever this looks like to you- go out there and DO IT. Get involved in the conversation.
A handful of farmers have been carrying the weight of these discussions with consumers for too long. Less than 2% of the US population is farmers- we're out numbered here. It's going to take all of us getting down to business and telling our stories to make a difference. I'm doing what I can for my industry, are you?