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Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future to Assess Recommendations of Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production Five Years Later

May 01, 2013

Livable Future Blog

Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), has announced the Center is conducting an assessment and analysis of the continued relevancy of the original Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) recommendations to address the public health, environment, animal welfare and rural community problems caused by industrial food animal production.  The Commission’s report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, was released five years ago this week. The results of CLF’s analysis will be released this summer.

“Serving as the Principal Investigator for the Pew Charitable Trusts grant funding the Commission was one of the high points in my time as CLF director,” said Dr. Lawrence. “The talented and diverse group of Commissioners conducted the most thorough investigation of the problems associated with and caused by industrial food animal production ever carried out. Their recommendations remain valid and the urgency to implement them fully grows each day.”

The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production was a two-year study funded by  The Pew Charitable Trusts through a grant to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Its charge was to review the dominant industrial farm animal production system and to develop consensus recommendations to solve the problems they found.

“If the last five years has shown us anything, it is that the public is more engaged than ever in the food system,” said Robert Martin, former Executive Director of PCIFAP and currently a senior policy advisor at CLF.  “Consumers want to know, and have the right to know, how and where their food is produced and what, if any, risks are associated with that process.”

In 2008, Commissioners determined that the negative effects of the industrial food animal production system were too great and the scientific evidence was too strong to ignore. They called for significant changes to be implemented in four specific areas: public health, environment, animal welfare and economics of rural communities.

The Commission’s key recommendations were:

  1. Ban the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics and other antimicrobials.
  2. Define non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials as any use in food animals in the absence of microbial disease or documented microbial disease exposure.
  3. Treat industrial farm animal production (IFAP) as an industrial operation and implement a new system to deal with farm waste, especially liquid waste systems, to replace the inflexible and broken system that exists today and to require permitting of more operations.
  4. Phase out the most intensive and inhumane production practices within a decade to reduce the risk of IFAP to public health and improve animal wellbeing (i.e., gestation crates, restrictive veal crates, and battery cages).
  5. Aggressively enforce the existing anti-trust laws applicable to food animal production and where, needed, pass additional laws to provide a level playing field for producers.
  6. Increase funding for, expand and reform, animal agriculture research.

The PCIFAP consisted of 14 Commissioners from diverse fields, including public policy, veterinary medicine, public health, agriculture, animal welfare, the food industry and rural society. The Commission assessed the current state of industrial animal agriculture based on site visits to production facilities across the country; consultation with industry stakeholders, public health, medical and agriculture experts; public meetings; peer-reviewed technical reports; staff research; and Commissioners’ own expertise.

Members of the Commission were: former Kansas Governor and Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin, chair; Dr. Michael Blackwell, former dean of the college of veterinary medicine, University of Tennessee/Knoxville, vice chair; Brother David Andrews, former director of National Catholic Rural Life; Fedele Bauccio, President and CEO of Bon Appetit Management Company; former Kansas Congressman and United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman; Dr. Alan M. Goldberg, Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Dr. John Hatch, Kenan Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health; Dan Jackson, cattle rancher; Dr. Frederick Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and President of Stone Barns, New York; Dr. James Merchant, former Dean, University of Iowa College of Public Health; Dr. Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University; Bill Niman, cattle rancher and founder of Niman Ranch, Inc.; Dr. Bernard Rollin, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University; and Dr. Mary Wilson, Associate Professor Harvard School of Public Health, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future promotes research and develops and communicates information about the interrelationships among diet, food production, environment and human health. The Center also promotes policies that protect human health, the global environment and the ability to sustain life for future generations.

Copy of the final reports: