Farmers and Ranchers are Committed to Raising Safe, Healthful Meat

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture October 13, 2015

Tonight we are going to sit down around the kitchen table and enjoy one of my favorite dinners, pot roast. There is nothing better than a slow-cooked, properly seasoned hunk of beef and the accompanying vegetables. I cannot wait. And the best part of all? I am 100 percent sure it is absolutely safe to eat and free of antibiotics.

How can I be sure my meal is free of antibiotics and safe? I raised the animal this particular pot roast came from and I have followed all of the protocols and precautions to make sure it was free of any possible antibiotic residue. So your response is naturally: Great, you raised it so you know, but what about the meat in the case at my local grocery store?

Whether it says “antibiotic free” or not I assure you that the meat in your grocer’s case is also completely free of antibiotic residue. I know, each day we are all bombarded with information about antibiotic- resistant bugs and we all worry about our families’ health. Some of the stories are quite frightening, and we are right to ask questions and seek assurances.

Antibiotics are critical for farmers and ranchers both personally and professionally. Of course we are concerned about their effectiveness when it comes to treatment for humans: Our families come first and foremost. However, as a caretaker of animals, having effective antibiotics available for our animals is also of utmost importance. We understand that the overuse of a specific antibiotic promotes resistance and that is why we use them only when needed. We rely on our veterinarians to provide us with recommendations for using the right medicine, at the right dose, at the right time. We work with our veterinarians very closely. Want proof? My veterinarian is on speed dial: my doctor is not.

I speak for my fellow farmers and ranchers when I say that we are cognizant of the value of antibiotics and the dangers of their overuse. We are concerned about resistant bacteria in our livestock, but the concern for our animals pales in comparison when it comes to the concern we have for our families. That is why we are diligent in our use of antibiotics and follow label directions and withdrawal dates. It is simply the right thing to do. As farmers and ranchers, we are proud to raise the meat on your dinner plates, but we are fathers, mothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts first. The safety of our families is paramount.

I assure you that we are in favor of continued monitoring when it comes to antibiotic resistance and will be the first ones to look for solutions if the time ever comes that a problem is found. Just know that the meat on your table is safe and healthful, and it will stay that way because of concerned, committed farmers and ranchers.

Glenn Brunkow, a fifth-generation farmer, raises cattle, sheep and crops with his family in Northeast Kansas. His weekly column “Dust on the Dashboard” can be found at

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Credit: Preston Keres, USDA/FPAC / CC0 

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