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Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

August 1, 2012

By: Dr. Tom Troxel and Dr. Michael Looper


Living in a World of Decreasing Resources & Increasing Regulation: How to Advance Animal Agriculture (Continuation)


Over the last two months we began discussing a white paper written by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture. This is a membership‐driven organization that unites and advances animal agriculture. At a recent conference they addressed the topic “Living in a World of Decreasing Resources & Increasing Regulation: How to Advance Animal Agriculture.” We will continue with some very interesting observations and comments highlighted within this white paper.


Exporting to Serve Global Consumers:

  • The United States is a major player in the export market.
  • International markets are a critical source of value in the U.S. livestock and poultry industries.
  • As a sector of animal agriculture becomes more export reliant, volatility within that sector also increases.
  • To keep the doors of foreign countries open to U.S. animal protein, disease preparedness – animal traceability – takes on increased importance.
  • Politics outside the industry has been known to have an effect on animal agriculture exports, with industries often becoming political pawns for countries that have problems with other U.S. issues. Often a quid pro quo mentality sets up the United States for failure in resolving disputes.



  • Preventing and controlling animal disease is critical to protecting American animal agriculture, and U.S. farmers and rancher work diligently to prevent and control disease in their herds and flocks.
  • While animal traceability does not prevent disease, knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they have been and when is important information in emergency response and in ongoing disease control and eradication programs.
  • An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system also can help reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduce the time needed to respond and decrease the cost to producers and the government.
  • The USDA/APHIS is proposing to establish minimum national official identification and documentation requirements for the traceability of livestock moving interstate.


Collaboration, Outreach:

  • In the face of reduced funding and resource availability, collaboration among academic, federal, state, and industry partners is increasingly critical in efforts to advance disease preparedness and response capacity.
  • Collaboration among these entities also can address other areas such as research and development, sustainability, studies focusing on need for – and the impact of- regulations, and dispelling the false choice of safe food or affordable food since consumers can have both safe food and affordable food.



  • Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals. FMD is found in many parts of the world.
  • While FMD can cause serious production losses, the most significant impact of the disease is its effect on trade in livestock and livestock products as countries without the disease, which include many U.S. major trading partners, do not import from, or severely restrict imports from, a FMD-infected country.
  • In short, if the FMD virus were introduced into the United States, which is FMD-free, the disease could cause billions of dollars in losses to the U.S. economy.
  • To that end, educational efforts regarding FMD vaccine development, distribution and use by all entities involved in animal agriculture should continue.  (Source: Living in a World of Decreasing Resources & Increasing Regulation: How to Advance Animal Agriculture White Paper, NIAA).


Sales of Premium Ground Beef Soar


Even as consumers trade down to lower-priced proteins as the economic downturn drags on, they are trading up – to the top of the lower-priced ground beef category, sending sales of “premium” ground beef soaring. Generally speaking, premium ground beef is comprised either of very low fat content (more than 91% lean); branded high-quality beef; and ground beef made from select cuts such as sirloin and chuck. They provide an alternative to fiscally savvy consumer who aren’t buying expensive steaks, but appreciate the flavor and health benefits of leaner types of beef products that fit in a price category between steaks and “regular” ground beef.


In fact, sales of premium ground beef from 90% lean sirloin rose by 5.4% while regular ground beef sales fell by 2.7% between 2005 and 2010 because consumer health concerns (Source: Meatingplace October 2011).


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