Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability


Exploring the 'millennials factor' and antibiotics endgame

Stakeholders Summit puts focus on critical under the radar game-changers that are set to emerge in a big way

Posted: April 16, 2014

Credit: Certified Angus Beef

Inside looks at several of the major trends shaping the pressures around farm animal care will take the spotlight at the upcoming Stakeholders Summit, hosted by the Animal Agriculture Alliance, May 8-9 in Crystal City, Virginia.

One factor that clearly pops out and hasn't yet been explored in much of the livestock welfare debate is what will be the impact of "millennials" – the first generation of young people born after the turn of the new century who will be entering young adulthood over the next 10 years.

In fact, the Alliance notes, the implications are huge. Worldwide and in the U.S., millennials are the largest generation yet – some 2.3 billion strong. How do they feel about the state of livestock welfare and animal agriculture industries? The answer may be complicated at the moment but the key element to recognize is the mindset of this generation is entering formative stages and will doubtless have a tremendous influence on the social license of livestock industries – perhaps much sooner than expected.

Credit: Animal Agriculture Alliance

Strong engagement critical

"Millennials are rapidly becoming the most influential generation in the U.S. and many parts of the world," says Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance President and CEO, in a recent talk at the Livestock Care Conference in Alberta, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care. "The millennial interest in knowing more about how their food is produced is something we need to not only pay attention to but become strongly engaged in. Activist groups have recognized this and we need to keep pace."

Another standout trend is the rising pressure around antibiotics. While the issue is no surprise and has been widely discussed, the summit aims to drive toward the ultimate question of how the antibiotics 'endgame' will likely play out. Is the predicted outcome inevitable and what could change the course? These are just a couple of many important questions with broad implications for agriculture.

Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance President and CEO, speaking at the recent Livestock Care Conference, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care. Credit: Nutmeg Photography

Industry taking charge

Representatives from Panera Bread Company, Perdue Farms and Certified Angus Beef will participate in a panel session to discuss their companies' philosophies on antibiotics use.

For its part, Certified Angus Beef has adopted the brand position that cattle are never given antibiotics or added hormones, and they're never fed anything but a vegetarian diet. In 2013, the brand's partners delivered 865 million pounds of premium beef to more than 14,000 restaurants and grocery stores.

Learn more about Certified Angus Beef here. Learn more about the Summit on the Alliance website.

Reprintable with credit. This article is available for reprint, with acknowledgement of the source as Meristem Land and Science, www.meristem.com.

Meristem is a Calgary-based communications firm that specializes in writing about western agriculture, food and land use. More articles at www.meristem.com.




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