A white paper that identifies and describes the challenges and opportunities today’s farmers and ranchers in animal agriculture face is now available.

Developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), the paper, “Living in a World of Decreasing Resources & Increasing Regulation: How to Advance Animal Agriculture,” combines the discussions and expertise presented at the 2012 NIAA meeting.

Some of the highlights of the paper include:

Changes in agriculture

  • Animal protein demand by 2050 must increase 73% to meet demand.
  • Poultry production will need to increase by 125%; sheep and goat meat, 78%; beef, 58%; and pork, 37%.
  • Small producers and integrated systems will both play significant roles in meeting world demand.

Technology needs

  • Today, a farmer feeds 155 people worldwide
  • It’s estimated that 70% of the anticipated needed food supply will have to come from advancements in efficiency‐improving technology: practices, products and genetics.
  • New technology will improve animal welfare, prevent and control disease, improve nutrient utilization in the animal and enable improved nutrient digestibility in livestock.
  • Improved animal productivity will help reduce the environmental impact of livestock production.

Regulatory pressure

  • Experts contend that concerns about food safety, sustainability, environment and animal welfare will increase.
  • Over‐regulation and under‐regulation of animal agriculture is not the answer, and animal agriculture does not expect zero regulatory oversight as regulations can strengthen the quality, safety and market position.
  • Science‐based, cost‐effective regulations are a better solution.

Antimicrobial use

  • Decisions to withdraw approval of, or ban, any antimicrobial uses should be based on solid science and risk‐based assessment.
  • It is crucial that safe and effective antimicrobials remain available for use in veterinary medicine to ensure the health and welfare of animals and, consequently, the health of humans.
  • Animal agriculture supports the judicious use of antimicrobials to maximize public and animal health benefits while minimizing risks.
  • Industry efforts should continue to focus on educating all producers on best practices for antibiotic use.

The paper also discusses exports, traceability, collaboration and species-specific concerns. The white paper goes on to describe the “negative spiral” of consumer trust, which then can lead to regulatory oversight.

The negative spiral:

  • Consumers turn to elected officials who, like them, are often also disconnected from animal agriculture;
  • Elected officials respond to the needs of their constituents and set up regulations designed around accountability and safety;
  • Implementation of regulations increase taxes for consumers who then have even higher expectations for accountability;
  • Producers push back because the cost of regulations makes their long‐term sustainability tenuous;
  • The negative spiral continues as constituents want more regulation and those in animal agriculture want less regulation so it can be sustainable.

Read the full white paper here.