WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2012) Will Witherspoon will speak at a congressional briefing on July 24 against the routine feeding of antibiotics to billions of farm animals. An estimated 80% of all antimicrobials used in this country are squandered for non-therapeutic purposes – to keep animals raised in overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions from getting sick, and to artificially speed their growth. Witherspoon ultimately is aiming to urge members of Congress to pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA).
Witherspoon will be speaking at the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) Meeting Room South at the 9:30 a.m. briefing sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter. Panelists, including Witherspoon, a public health veterinarian, and farmers practicing high-welfare, sustainable methods, will discuss the negative impacts of the misuse of antibiotics on animals as well as their proper role in the health and welfare of animals raised for food. Witherspoon and the rest of the panel are aiming to help members of Congress appreciate the importance of passing the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), introduced in the House by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Congress’s only microbiologist and in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). PAMTA would restrict antibiotic use in animals to the treatment of sick or injured animals under the direction of a veterinarian, and phase out use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent diseases associated with poor animal husbandry systems.
Witherspoon, who has an agricultural engineering degree from the University of Georgia, raises grassfed White Park Cattle at the 500-acre Shire Gate Farm, located in Owensville, Missouri. At Shire Gate Farm, certified by Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), Witherspoon and his team apply high-welfare, sustainable farming techniques that almost entirely rule out the need for antibiotics. By managing the cattle to promote health and minimize stress, allowing the animals to perform their natural behaviors out on pasture, and ensuring they are fed a diet that matches their natural needs, Witherspoon is able to keep his cattle health and prevent disease without relying on routine antibiotic use.
Will Witherspoon says,
“It’s been an eye-opening journey as a farmer to see the industrialized practices that have developed. It’s mind-blowing that this represents one of the gravest known threats to human health, yet over 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by the intensive livestock industry. I’m glad I’ve been given the opportunity to try to make a change and hope that Congress will see the dangers of the situation and support PAMTA.”
About Animal Welfare Approved
Animal Welfare Approved audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a “badge of honor for farmers” and the “gold standard,” AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.
Animal Welfare Approved’s Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. In addition, AWA has published Food Labeling for Dummies, a regularly updated guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available free for download at www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.