Charter member, Jim Fraley, has been involved with the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) on an individual and organizational basis for decades.
Fraley has been a member of the NIAA, and previously Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI), Board of Directors for nearly 15 years, serving as an executive committee member and secretary for five years. He has also been active on several committees and leader of the Animal Identification and Information Systems Council. He is currently the Co-Chair for the Animal Care Council. His leadership capabilities enabled him to help plan the first NIAA Animal Identification Conference as well as several other annual conferences.
Throughout his entire life, Fraley has believed in the importance in taking care of livestock and passing that belief on to the next generation.
“The most important crop a farmer can grow is their children,” Fraley said. A life lesson that Fraley has incorporated in to his daily life is one his mother taught him at a young age, that is that the care of the animals comes before yourself, meaning that chores were done before you sat down to eat your own meal.
His dedication to animal agriculture helped him earn the NIAA Meritorious Service Award in 2014. Each year, NIAA honors an individual who has made extensive contributions and/or has given exemplary service to the animal agriculture industry and to NIAA. Fraley did just that by devoting his career to bringing people and organizations together through his work with the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Milk Producers Association and his extensive time as a leader within NIAA.
“There is no better way to obtain information, discuss issues, and share solutions. Period,” Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau Livestock Program Director, said. “I have been so privileged to be part of so many key national issues: brucellosis and PRV eradication, BSE, animal care, and animal identification. NIAA was there and led the consensus-building efforts of our industry.”
Through his leadership experiences, Fraley has learned to never be afraid to ask for help. He believes that Farm Bureau and NIAA are incredibly similar in the way that they are able to bring people together on issues and build consensus. “In nearly every instance, people are always willing to pitch in. Sometimes, all they need is that little nudge,” Fraley said.
According to Fraley, the best value of NIAA is making connections with others at the NIAA meetings. “Come to one meeting, you will be hooked,” he said.
Recently, I presented my views about antibiotic stewardship and the future of antibiotic use in the cattle industry to a group of cattle feeders and was approached to put those thoughts on paper.
Here are some of them.
First, I must give you a couple of my personality quirks. I prefer to do public speaking to writing, so forgive me if this is not a masterpiece. Moreover, I am an eternal optimist and that optimism continues to grow the older I get. I believe in "continuous improvement," and this theme will resonate throughout this article.
Also, please don't expect many facts and figures in the article. The older and more experienced I get, the more I realize to connect with anyone you first have to connect to their thoughts and biases. Rarely do facts and figures accomplish that connection, at least not by themselves.
So, let's explore the title of this article. A precious resource conjures up many thoughts in many different ways. In the field of medicine - all medicine - few discoveries have assisted medical professionals more in our duty and honor as caretakers of the animal and people kingdoms. No one paying attention to health anywhere on our planet will argue the importance of the amazing tool of antibiotics, for all creatures.
As an agriculture medical professional and enthusiast at all geographical and food-support levels, I have never doubted, even for a second, the welfare need for antibiotics in caring for our animals. I have never questioned the stewardship in using antibiotics for managing animal groups, be it herds, flocks or fish. But, here we are today, being asked to actively participate in protecting the future utility of antibiotics for humans, primarily, but animals, as well, as a very close second priority.
Make no mistake about it, when antibiotics are used it puts pressure on the bacteria to find ways to survive in the presence of the antibiotics. Said another way, the more antibiotics are used, the more likely the bacteria will find ways to survive.
To complicate managing this medical intervention even more, the most powerful antibiotics need to be developed and then not used until they are the last resort. This breaks all the rules of business: invest heavily, develop well and then put on the shelf and not use aggressively.
This brings me to my topic of "continuous improvement." You may wonder where that fits in this discussion, but it really isn't very complicated.
Global societal pressure, government officials, retail differentiation and medical strategists are all aligned on the shared goal of wanting less use of antibiotics in food production. In my 35-plus years of veterinary medicine, I have never experienced a subject that is so relevant across so many diverse sectors.
The basis for all this is a real concern in human medicine about escalating antibiotic resistance. As I observe life and medicine all around me, human medicine and society are doing many positive things to reduce use, and they are ramping up to do even more. Further, the informed scientists agree that the resistance problem in human medicine is primarily a human issue. But the tough news for us in agriculture is that society influencers and policy makers can't legislate big improvements in human medicine because it's too big, yet they believe they must do something. The result is they push agriculture to carry a very sizable share of the responsibility.
Those of us who have spent our entire lives in this protein business recognize we can adapt to almost anything. If we are still in production agriculture, we are really good at adaptation. All of us would also share in the necessary goal of having effective antibiotics for our children, our grandchildren and our animals. So in the interest of continuous improvement, the next few years will see all of us whine some about new ways to reduce antibiotic use. Yet, we will find ways to do this without compromising productivity and animal welfare.
In the end, we will adapt to the new responsibility we share in protecting this precious resource for all animals and people.
Sibbel is director of U.S. Cattle Technical Services for Merck Animal Health.
Article originally appeared in Drovers CatttleNetwork, September 2015
Long time member, Malcolm Harvey, President of the Fort Supply Technologies, joined the National Institute for Animal Agriculture in order to support livestock agriculture by staying connected with customers.
Malcolm, along with his brothers Nephi and Ian, and cousin Stosh, come from a background rich in American history and ranching. Their father bought what used to be U.S. Fort Supply, the last supply point for settlers on their way west into the Salt Lake Valley, to start a cow/calf operation. Though Malcolm, Nephi and Ian finished college and started their own careers in the semiconductor and microelectronics industry, they saw a need within the agricultural industry. In 2006 they joined together to leverage their diverse technical experience to start Fort Supply Technologies in order to help livestock stake holders meet Animal Disease Traceability (then National Animal Identification System, NAIS) requirements.
“The practical use of technologies, specifically communication systems, will tie our industry together in an unprecedented coalition to market our message and provide meaningful motivation towards positive change,” Malcolm said.
Fort Supply Technologies has been fortunate to work with this group of agricultural professionals at a time when the growing world population needs a safe, sustainable and healthy source of protein. Progressive livestock managers are known for their independence but also their innovation to try something new. Fort Supply Technologies specialize in livestock identification and software products for applications which build on the advances of current and emerging technologies.
“The mission and goals of Fort Supply and NIAA are extremely synergistic,” Malcolm said. “The products and services of Fort Supply bridge the gap between productivity enhancement and new regulatory ADT rules.”
Malcolm and the Fort Supply Technologies team always seize the opportunity to meet with the combination of private industry and state and federal livestock leaders at the annual NIAA meetings.
“For many years Fort Supply has been an active member of the Animal Identification & Information Systems Council,” Malcolm said. They have also attended and/or sponsored the annual NIAA meetings since 2006.
Malcolm understands that the best way to develop solutions is to sometimes work with those from different backgrounds. “The truth to every situation lies in the middle of all the extremes,” Malcolm said. “Always seek the input from all parties involved before making a decision.”
New member, Dr. Tom Shryock Ph.D., has not wasted any time in getting involved with the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
"I have participated in the Antibiotic Conferences for 5 years and the Antibiotic Council," Shryock said." I feel it is an important issue that NIAA has taken on by involving multiple stakeholders to join in the dialog."
Shryock spent 28 years in the animal health pharmaceutical industry, working on antibiotics, resistance and regulatory affairs on a global basis. After recently retiring, he formed Antimicrobial Consultants, LLC. He works in partnership with clients to provide insight, experience and recommendations on best pathways to achieve success in antimicrobial or "alternative" innovations clinical studies and regulatory submissions. Also to sustain antimicrobial product availability, effectiveness and implement responsible use practices, metrics or policies at the global, national or clinical level. Shryock acts as the Chief Scientific Officer and managing member at Antimicrobial Consultants, LLC.
"Antimicrobial Consultants, LLC mission is consistent with the objectives of NIAA regarding antibiotic issues," Shryock said. "Both organizations value networking and contacts to get the best input possible and viewpoints, develop strategic approaches that are practical and work for the sustainability of existing and innovative animal antimicrobial products in food animal agriculture."
Shryock believes that the increased global demand for food will put additional pressure on crop and animal producers. He points out that technological innovation can transform the productivity for these producers.
"Complicating this challenge are consumer preferences for the manner in which foods are produced, processed, shipped and consumed, that may be well-intentioned but not scientifically grounded," Shryock said.
"As chair of a volunteer organization that held “consensus” as its operational process, I found out that the best way to achieve it was to gather input from all parties and look for common ground upon which additional points could be added," Shryock said. "In the end, I felt consensus was achieved when the parties went away just a little bit unhappy because that meant no one party got everything they wanted, but each got enough to not be terribly unhappy about it."
Shryock also believes that by becoming a member of NIAA, you are making the decision to be a contributor to the organization. He lives by the saying: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
"NIAA offers the opportunity to participate with great people who want to make a positive difference for animal agriculture," Shryock said.
Michael Coe has been a member of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture for nearly 12 years. Growing up on a family dairy farm in Kansas, Coe has a deep rooted love for agriculture. Of the many fond memories he has within agriculture his most favorite is whenever he can help a producer solve a problem or issue they have been dealing with in their own business.
Coe's initial involvement with NIAA was through the NIAA ID Info Expo’s starting back in 2002 through the affiliation of his employer Schering-Plough Animal Health and Global Animal Management.
Currently, Coe works with Animal Profiling International, Inc. based out of Portland, Ore. Coe is the Vice President of Animal Health. In this position he is responsible for veterinary technical services, sales and business development. Animal Profiling International is dedicated to the improvement of animal health management through advanced risk-assessment technologies. API’s practical strategy is unique yet simple – provide technologies that better evaluate the health condition of the animal, resulting in more effective management techniques and more selective use of therapeutic practices to improve performance and returns.
Just as NIAA strives to advance proactive solutions and drive positive change within animal agriculture, Coe's team at API has the same objective. Specifically using advanced diagnostic tools to enhance animal health.
Coe's involvement within NIAA has been wide-stretched. He has been an active member of NIAA, attending many Annual Conferences and Animal Identification and Information Systems Council meetings within his 12 years with the NIAA. Coe has also attended two of the four Antibiotics Symposia hosted by NIAA.
In addition, he is in his third year on the Board of Directors and his first with the Executive Committee. He has also been a member of several sub-committees and councils including being the Co-Chair of the Animal Identification & Information Systems Council, as well as the planning committees for the 2010 Joint Strategy Forum on Animal Disease Traceability and the 2013 and 2015 Annual Conferences.
Along with NIAA, Coe is looking towards the future in agriculture and believes that some specific challenges agriculture will face include consumer perceptions of animal agriculture practices such as water use, animal husbandry and integration of GMO technologies. However, through the utilization of new technologies, the agricultural industry can enhance productivity in livestock systems and utilize new opportunities to educate consumers on just how bio-secure and sustainable agriculture truly is.
"With the advent of social media tools I think we have unprecedented opportunity to counter many of the negative perceptions and at the same time present the overwhelmingly positive attributes of animal agriculture," Coe said.
The diverse group that is NIAA allows members to have a vast array of experiences within the association, providing members with enormous value depending on their situation.
"The value of NIAA for me is the ability to network with such a diverse group of industry leaders and actively participate in relevant and timely discussion forums, meetings, and symposia," Coe said.
To anyone considering joining NIAA, Coe says, "come on aboard – the water is fine, the people are great and the opportunities are endless."