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Meet your meat producers

BY GUEST OPINION | MARCH 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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I am a native Iowan and a University of Iowa student. I love being a part of this state and this school.

Unfortunately, my pride was wounded by the March 7 column “Big pork’s pandering.” The article left me wondering what people really think about our great state and the hardworking people that keep it moving.

Agriculture is an integral part of Iowa’s economy, producing more than 27 percent of the state’s economic proceeds. What is to be gained by degrading one of the state’s greatest industries?

I take great pride in my family being pork producers and providing a high-quality product for consumers. My father was president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 2008, and he has been an active member for the last 18 years. He works from sunup to sundown to care for each and every animal on the farm. He is committed to producing safe, wholesome pork in a socially responsible way. No one cares more than he does about providing high-quality products, taking care of his animals and natural resources, and contributing to his community.

Whether farms are growing in size or remaining the same, pork producers are working hard to ensure all of their animals are raised in the appropriate manner. Growing hog farms, like the one I grew up on, have practices in place to assure the animals are safe and comfortable in the buildings.

As pork producers, we provide individual care to each of our animals and work with veterinarians to ensure our animals are safe and treated in a humane manner.

The column also stated “the rampant overuse of antibiotics on swine farms has actually led to a greater presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria among workers and animals than at farms where no antibiotics were used.” MRSA can be found on hog farms, but it actually originated in nursing homes and hospitals — and can be found on domestic animals such as dogs, cats, and horses. According to health-care workers in the Netherlands, who are on the forefront of MRSA research in farm animals, people who come into contact with pigs that have been treated with antibiotics show no statistical difference in health when compared with people who have had no contact with pigs treated with antibiotics. To boldly state the overuse of antibiotics on pigs is responsible for a greater presence of MRSA in the human population is simply absurd.

As the daughter of a pork producer, the pork producers I have met use antibiotics responsibly. The answer to concerns about overmedicated hogs is simple: quality pork. My dad only treats his pigs when they need treatment, and follows a protocol. All antibiotics used have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are administered, when necessary, to the animal after consultation with a veterinarian. My dad is not giving his pigs antibiotics in order to promote “unnatural growth” but rather, to treat his animals when they become sick, just like humans who take antibiotics when they are ill.

To ensure the pork on your plate is of the highest quality possible, my dad follows a withdrawal time-period protocol for each specific antibiotic. Once the withdrawal period is up, the medication is completely out of the pig’s system. Animals with medication still in their systems are not sent to market; it is against the law.

My dad and his fellow pork producers take great pride in caring for their animals. It doesn’t matter if they house their animals in stalls or pens or barns or outside; ultimately, it comes down to the individual care given to each pig. Some pigs are individually housed so pork producers can provide the appropriate care for them, whether they need more feed or a break from the bullying nature of other pigs.

I am proud to be a pork producer’s daughter. I know that my dad is committed to producing safe, wholesome pork in a socially responsible and ethical manner. I encourage you to learn more on the Internet or by visiting a farm for yourself.

Crystal Moody is a UI graduate student in secondary science education.


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