WICHITA, Kan. – Cargill announced it is eliminating 20 percent of antibiotics deemed important to human medicine and farm animals from its four feed yards in Texas, Kansas and Colorado and four feed yards operated by one of its suppliers, Friona Industries. The transition will impact 1.2 million beef cattle.

John Keating
John Keating, president of Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.

“Our decision to eliminate 20 percent of the antibiotics used in our beef cattle, which are also used for human health, took into consideration customer and consumer desires to help ensure the long-term medical effectiveness of antibiotics for both people and animals,” John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita-based beef business, said in a news release.  “We need to balance those desires with our commitment to ensure the health of animals raised for food, which contributes to the production of safer food.”

Cargill also said the company will increase to 90 percent the number of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified feed yards that supply Cargill cattle by 2018. BQA is a stewardship certification program created by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). The program includes training for cattle producers in best practices. Cargill added that it is working with the Canadian beef industry to create a similar program.

Going forward, Cargill plans to collaborate with industry partners, ranchers, universities and researchers to identify alternatives that could result in further reduction in antibiotics used in beef production.

Keating noted that the company’s consumer research indicated Cargill needed to be more transparent about its production practices. In response to consumer demand for more information on this topic, Cargill created a website that explains the company’s antibiotics policy.

“…We will also engage with customers and other important stakeholders on a continual basis to better understand their expectations regarding antibiotic use in beef production, and how we can better meet those expectations,” Keating said.  “Accountability and credibility are crucial to the success of our long-term efforts to produce nutritious, affordable, wholesome and sustainable beef products our customers and consumers want to purchase and enjoy.”