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Cargill Pulling Back Antibiotic Use by 20% in Beef Cattle

Cargill is cutting back on the amount of antibiotics used on its U.S. cattle supply by 20%. This decision will influence 1.2 million cattle annually, none of which use any type of antibiotics for growth promotion that are important for human health.
Eight feed yards will be affected — four of which are Cargill-operated in Texas, Kansas, and Colorado, and four that are run by a Cargill business partner, Friona Industries.
“Scientific research and yet-to-be-discovered innovative technologies could certainly help us further reduce, or eliminate, the need for antibiotics in the beef supply chain,” says John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita-based beef business.
By 2018, the company plans to have 90% of its cattle supplied by Beef Quality Assurance- (BQA) certified feed yards. This high percentage is unprecedented amongst major beef processors. Cargill is working with the Canadian beef industry to try to get a stewardship certification program similar to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s BQA program in place up north.
“We have an obligation to ensure that sick animals do not suffer, and that we prevent them from becoming ill."
Cargill already has a business partnership in place that allows the company to offer antibiotic-free beef options.
“Our decision to eliminate 20% of the antibiotics used in our beef cattle, which are also used for human health, took into consideration customer and consumer desires to help ensure the long-term medical effectiveness of antibiotics for both people and animals,” Keating says. “We need to balance those desires with our commitment to ensure the health of animals raised for food, which contributes to the production of safer food.”
In 2014, Cargill announced its decision to eliminate growth promoting antibiotics from U.S. turkey. That change was completely implemented by 2015’s holiday season.
“We have an obligation to ensure that sick animals do not suffer, and that we prevent them from becoming ill, and we will use ongoing research efforts as the basis for any future additional reductions in antibiotic use,” Keating says. 
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