Monday, 10 September 2012

Animal agriculture even more vital

By Archie Clutter, Ronnie Green and Greg Ibach

Clutter is dean of the Agricultural Research Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Green is the Harlan vice chancellor of UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Ibach is director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

In Nebraska, outstanding beef is a point of pride. This week, researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will gather at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island with a focus on beef in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources display area.

Animal agriculture serves the world today in a wide range of ways that are critical to the health and vitality of the global population, as well as to our overall quality of life. Meat, dairy and poultry products supply concentrations of dietary protein, vitamins and minerals that are essential to growth and development of healthy humans and a long, healthy life. Additional animal products shape the fabric of our lives in many ways, including elements of clothing, shelter and medical tools and technologies.

As we face the immense and unprecedented challenge of providing sustained food security for a global population that recently reached 7 billion and will surpass 9 billion well within the lifetimes of our current high school and college students, we will need every bit of our collective intellectual resources and creative ingenuity to maintain that high quality of life.

Today’s livestock farms and ranches in Nebraska possess the capacity to convert a wide range of grasslands and feed sources in the delivery of nutrient-rich food for human consumption. We must find new ways to increase the effectiveness of that delivery. Never before has the importance of animal agriculture been greater.

There is already abundant evidence that population growth, combined with desired and adequate growth in affluence, results in greater demand for animal protein. Demand is being met by production in all corners of the world, but only in America do we have such tremendous capacity for animal agriculture combined with strong commitment to animal care and well-being.

Over the past several decades the University of Nebraska has helped to develop — and Nebraska livestock farmers have adopted — methods that represent a holistic approach of preventive health care, complete nutrition, protection from predators and thoughtful animal husbandry. This partnership — along with the rich resources of grassland, cropland and water — positions Nebraska in the epicenter of animal agriculture and enables Nebraska farmers and ranchers to meet growing global food demands with sound animal care.

And today our livestock farmers clearly strive to remain the best at blending time-tested methods of husbandry and stewardship with new innovations developed through applied science.

Continuing improvement of programs such as Beef Quality Assurance established in the 1980s, and emergence of new initiatives such as the We Care Program by America’s Pork Producers, exemplify that ongoing commitment to animal care and well-being. Nebraska farmers are leaders in these efforts and hold themselves, as a community, to the highest standards for animal care in providing a consistently nutritious and abundant supply.

In this process of striving for greater understanding of the needs and well-being of agricultural animals — and alignment with the search for greatest effectiveness in the provision of nutritious animal food products from limited natural and feed resources — it is imperative that the University of Nebraska remain true to its land-grant mission for teaching, research and extension. The university will continue to be an unbiased source of research information, from our own scientists and their collaborators, on the response of animals to on-farm environments and management methods that accommodate animal needs in a sustainable way. Our extension personnel will continue to deliver that unbiased knowledge to a broad and diverse audience.

We must provide a learning environment for our young people in which they gain a better understanding of good-quality management for animal agriculture and of the diverse human population that will benefit from animal products.

As we consider this dynamic and critical time in the history of our civilization, and the role that animal agriculture can and must play in sustaining global food security and a good quality of life for our sons and daughters, words from our youth and an organization that provided us with an early vision and education for feeding the world come to mind.

The creed of the Future Farmers of America begins: “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.”

We absolutely believe in the future of animal agriculture.
Original Article Here

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