|USDA Stakeholder Workshop for Animal Agriculture|
As encouraged by animal agriculture stakeholders, a National Stakeholder Workshop sponsored by CSREES and ARS was held to show progress toward implementation of the six Food Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) 2002 goals and corresponding objectives developed in 1999 by the Animal Agriculture Coalition and the Federation of Animal Science Societies. The workshop provided the opportunity for National Program Leaders/Directors to meet with stakeholders, customers, and partners to assess progress by the two agencies and provide a forum for making recommendations to USDA to enhance implementation. Stakeholder input is critical to ensure that the research and education portfolio remains relevant and addresses changing needs of animal agriculture.
Background: "FAIR 2002 is the outcome of the second national conclave to establish consensus on animal agriculture research and education priorities for the 21st century. More than 250 leading animal scientists, farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, animal welfare proponents, commodity group representatives, government staff, rural advocates, and agribusiness and food service representatives gathered to determine the most pressing research and education needs of the animal industry. The science behind animal agriculture affects America’s international trade balance, our environment, our neighbors, local economies, and us as individuals. Competitive farmers and ranchers with the right knowledge and tools can ensure that livestock, dairy, and poultry enterprises thrive; consumers get safe and nutritious food; and wildlife benefit from improved animal health and enhanced environmental stewardship. Food animals fare better in the care of knowledgeable producers and processors, and communities reap financial rewards from food-processing industries. Gains such as these require public investments in research and education that, in turn, fuel the creation of industries and export profits that sustain communities and rural economies across the country. Keeping that edge will require a clear vision for the future and a strategic plan for research investments to attain the next generation of innovations."
Food Animal Integrated Research for 2002 (FAIR 2002) GoalsStrengthen Global Competitiveness: Develop the systems needed to keep American animal agriculture competitive to the global market.
Enhance Human Nutrition: Improve animal food products to help people live better, longer.
Protect Animal Health: Develop strategies and technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat animal diseases.
Improve Food Safety: Safeguard public health and reduce the risk of food-borne diseases.
Ensure Environmental Quality: Devise animal production and processing systems that sustain or improve the environment.
Promote Animal Well-Being: Enhance animal well-being throughout the food-production cycle.
Highlight ongoing implementation of the Food Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) 2002 goals and objectives by ARS and CSREES, receive input from stakeholders regarding an assessment of progress towards the FAIR 2002 priorities, and provide a forum for making recommendations to USDA to enhance implementation.
Identify ways to improve coordinated implementation of the FAIR 2002 priorities, and strengthen the on-going dialogue among agricultural partners, professional organizations, other interested stakeholders and USDA program leaders to address animal agriculture’s most urgent issues.
Wednesday November 28, 2001
8:15 - 8:35 Call meeting to order/Planning Committee introduction, Lewis Smith, ARS
8:35 - 8:45 FAIR 2002 Overview
8:45 - 9:15 “Big Picture Facing Animal Agriculture”
9:15 - 9:45 Robert Buchanan, Director, Office of Science in
9:45 - 10:15 ARS/CSREES Team:
10:15 - 10:45 BREAK
Session 2: Promote Animal Well-Being
11:15 - 11:45 ARS/CSREES Team:
11:45 - 1:00 BUFFET WORKING LUNCH (Table Discussions)
Session 3: Enhance Human Nutrition
1:00 - 1:30 Bruce Watkins, Professor, Department of Food Science, Purdue
1:30 - 2:00 ARS/CSREES Team:
Workgroups Sessions 1, 2, 3
2:05 - 4:00 Workgroups
4:00-4:30 Merge Workgroup Recommendations for Each Goal
4:30 - 5:00 Report Results for Each Goal
5:00 - 5:30 Wednesday Wrap-up, Questions
5:30 - 6:30 Cash Bar / Reception
Thursday November 29, 2001
8:00 - 8:15 Overview of Wednesday workgroup sessions, Larry Miller
Session 4: Strenthen Global Competitiveness
8:45 - 9:15 ARS/CSREES Team:
Session 5: Protect Animal Health
9:45 - 10:15 ARS/CSREES Team:
10:15 - 10:45 break
Session 6: Ensure Environmental Quality
11:15 - 11:45 ARS/CSREES Team:
11:45 - 1:00 Working Lunch
Workgroup session 4, 5, 6
1:05 - 3:00 Workgroups
3:00-3:30 Merge Workgroup Recommendations for Each Goal
3:30 - 4:00 Report Results for Each Goal
4:00 - 4:30 Thursday Wrap-up, Questions
Friday November 30, 2001
8:30 - 9:30 Review recommendations for each goal and identify cross-cutting
9:30 - 11:00 Identify areas which are, or can be, implemented jointly vs. single
11:00 - 12:00 Separate meetings for each Goal to identify specific follow-up actions to
Examples of Effective Collaborative Programs/Activities
Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness
GOAL 2: IMPROVE HUMAN NUTRITION
Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness
GOAL 3: PROTECTING ANIMAL HEALTH
Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness
GOAL 4: IMPROVE FOOD SAFETY
Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness
GOAL 5: ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness
GOAL 6: PROMOTE ANIMAL WELL-BEING
Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness
Overarching Themes and Potential Actions to Improve Implementation
1. Better Communications
2. Whole Systems Approach
3. Rapid Tests/Measures
4. Economic Evaluation, Economics/Value of Intervention
6. Multidisciplinary Approach
7. Global Trade/Competitiveness
8. Infrastructure Capacity
9. Expand Partnerships
Insights on Ways to Enhance Implementation
Integrated Research to Strengthen Global Competitiveness of American Animal Agriculture
Production efficiency and high-quality products form the basis for profitability of American farms and ranches and ensure global competitiveness of the U.S. animal agricultural industry. Market and policy research positions producers and processors of animal products for success in the world marketplace. Developing new and innovative animal products enhances economic well-being of producers, provides new entries into the global market, and boosts local economies. Predicting social and ethical perceptions and economic viability of production systems complimented by aggressive technology transfer assists stakeholders in shaping the future of American animal agriculture. Our intent here is to highlight some of the United States Department of Agriculture’s current implementation of the Food Animal Integrated Research 2002 (FAIR 2002) Goal 1: Strengthen Global Competitiveness.
A major portion of Federal formula funds administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and allocated to Land Grant universities support agricultural programs that contribute to enhanced profitability of farms and ranches and strengthening global competitiveness of U.S. animal products. Most problems facing animal agriculture can not be solved by one agricultural experiment station (AES) or Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory. Important issues are frequently addressed through coordinated efforts organized as Multistate Projects. There are approximately 65 Multistate Projects yielding new knowledge to enhance global competitiveness of U. S. animal agriculture. Nearly all of these projects are national in scope, multi-disciplinary, and involve scientists from AES and ARS locations throughout the U. S.
The ARS National Programs focus research on problems of broad importance to stakeholders. These National Programs identify virtual research teams, across commodities and locations, that expedite and enhance the quality of research to solve problems and strengthen global competitiveness of American animal agriculture. The ARS Food Animal Production National Program is geared toward increasing efficiency of animal production (1) such that food and fiber can be produced using fewer inputs thus lowering production costs and (2) to meet demand of an increasing world population. Goals of ARS Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products National Program are to (1) maintain quality and enhance marketability of harvested agricultural commodities and (2) develop value-added food and non-food products and processes that enhance the economic viability and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.
Several CSREES Competitive Grants Programs support Goal 1. These include programs within the National Research Initiative (NRI) and the Initiative for Future Agricultural and Food Systems (IFAFS). The NRI funds basic and applied research in Animal Reproduction, Animal Growth and Nutrient Utilization, and Animal Genome and Genetic Mechanisms. These programs are primarily geared toward enhancing production efficiency and economic strategies at the farm and ranch level. The NRI’s Markets and Trade program funds projects that position producers and processors to succeed in the global market. The NRI’s Food Characterization/Process/Product Research program supports development of new value-added products. The IFAFS Agricultural Genomics Program supports multi-investigator projects in animal genomics with application at the farm and ranch level. The IFAFS Farm Efficiency and Profitability Program supports projects aimed at improved management strategies, especially those benefitting small farms and ranches.
Objective 1: Enhance production efficiency and economic strategies at the farm and ranch level.
Research at many state and federal institutions has resulted in national genetic evaluation programs for: (1) dairy cattle by ARS, (2) beef cattle by Colorado State, Cornell, and Iowa State Universities and University of Georgia, (3) sheep by Virginia Tech, and (4) swine by Purdue University. Ongoing collaborative efforts supported by ARS and CSREES (e.g. Multistate Projects NC-209, NC-220, and S-284), are leading to integration of information from molecular markers, improved prediction methods, and development of new breeding objectives to accelerate progress toward greater efficiency and profitability of commercial production.
Two Multistate Projects involving extensive collaboration among scientists at 6 ARS Labs, 30 AESs, and several other universities have produced and continue to develop comprehensive genetic linkage maps for agriculturally important species. NRSP-8 focuses on livestock species and NE-186 focuses on aquaculture species. These maps have facilitated the work of scientists worldwide to identify locations on chromosomes that contain genes that affect production traits such as disease resistance, reproductive efficiency, growth, and carcass composition. Accelerated genetic improvement of these production traits resulting from marker assisted selection and introgression holds the promise of increasing production efficiency and thereby improving profitability and global competitiveness of U. S. animal agriculture.
Feed is the single largest variable cost and manure is a significant source of adverse environmental impact in animal production systems. Research aimed at improving conversion of feed into product is an integral component of research at virtually all ARS and CSREES funded locations. For example, an integrated team of ARS scientists and colleagues at Cornell University, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin with broad disciplinary expertise in animal nutrition, plant genetics, molecular biochemistry, agronomy, and systems analysis are addressing the unique advantages of maximizing use of forage nutrients for milk production. Complementary efforts on the environmental and economic impacts of nutrient management on dairy forage systems are conducted in Multistate Project NE-132. In most animal production systems, producing excess fat is wasteful of feed energy. Researchers from ten states, ARS, and Canada are engaged in collaborative research on regulation of nutrient use in food producing animals to enhance biological efficiency of producing high-quality products that meet changing consumer demands (Multistate Project NE-148).
Collaboration among ARS scientists and colleagues at Texas A&M, Colorado State, and South Dakota State Universities produced the Decision Evaluator for the Cattle Industry (DECI), a simulation based decision support tool. The DECI system is widely adopted as an aid in teaching beef production classes and by beef producers for evaluating alternative production practices.
The CSREES, ARS, and stakeholders collaboratively planned the USDA Aquaculture Program to ensure its relevancy and continuity. The Regional Aquaculture Centers of CSREES linked to the network of the ARS National Research Centers provide research, technology development, and extension services to support a globally competitive aquaculture program.
Objective 2: Position producers and processors of animal products to succeed in a global market.
Enhancing global competitiveness of U.S. produced red meat is addressed in Multistate Project W-177, a collaborative effort that includes ARS, the Economic Research Service, and fifteen AESs. The focus is to add value to red meat products by reducing industry generated defects, extending shelf life of retail cuts, increasing value-added product development, and improving packaging and shipping containers to prevent product deterioration. This research is complemented by evaluating transmission of economic signals throughout the market in analyzing the efficiency of current market structures and the impact of alternative pricing systems, market structures, trade agreements, and price reporting/discovery systems. Impacts of structural changes in the dairy industry are also being evaluated.
Scientists funded by the NRI are engaged in research investigating foreign and domestic policy issues surrounding international trade in animal products. These studies, conducted by investigators at Iowa State, Purdue, and Cornell Universities, and University of Connecticut, promise to provide producers and processors of animal products with information needed to ensure competitiveness of U.S. agricultural commodities in international markets. Domestic and international consumer perceptions of foods produced from genetically modified animals is under investigation by IFAFS funded researchers at (1) Mississippi State University and collaborators in the United Kingdom, and (2) South Dakota State University and collaborators in Iowa, North Dakota Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Objective 3: Develop innovative animal products for specialized markets to boost local economies.
ARS scientists at the Eastern Regional Research Center apply biochemical, biotechnology, molecular modeling, and food engineering approaches to problems in dairy foods research and in adding value to waste products from rendering. Advances in knowledge gained lead to: (1) beneficial changes in dairy foods, (2) cost-effective production of biodegradable polymers, and (3) derivation of animal fats and restaurant grease into bio-diesel fuel, and other value-add products. Outcomes from this research benefit dairy and meat animal producers, strengthen and create new collateral industries, and ultimately enhance the social and economic well-being of the public.
During fiscal years 1998-2000, the NRI funded projects to improve surimi processing by bioengineering protease inhibitors; develop thermal-stable species marker proteins to detect adulteration of meat; examine application of high performance tangential flow filtration to purify individual whey proteins; and develop a process to produce food proteins for humans from low value fish muscle sources through pH modifications. Technical and economic feasibility of employing enzyme-mediated reactions to produce modified oils and fats were assessed by scientists in NRI funded research. These efforts increase the value of the original fat or oil by replacing saturated fatty acid residues that are responsible for adverse physiological effects with residues that are either benign or confer preventative or therapeutic health benefits.
Palatability of animal products is an important determinant of consumer demand. Enhanced palatability through managerial intervention and new processing techniques create new products, increase demand for products of animal agriculture, and ultimately benefit local communities by sustaining economically viable production enterprises. Several NRI funded projects and research by ARS scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Meat Animal Research Center, and Russell Agricultural Research Center focuses on sensory, biochemical, and physical properties of muscle foods in order to predict and enhance tenderness thereby adding value to many cuts of meat currently marketed at reduced prices due to poor eating quality. In addition, scientists at the ARS Southern Regional Research Center are identifying problematic microbial metabolites in aquaculture and developing methods to forecast/avoid biosynthesis of MIB/geosmin, other "off-flavors", and the growth of problematic taxa. They are also developing methods that avoid/antagonize the induction of "off-flavor" metabolite biosynthesis and increase their depuration from fish.
Objective 4: Help producers, policymakers, and other stakeholders decide what animal agriculture will look like in the future.
Technology transfer to shape future production systems is an integral component of ARS programs in Food Animal Production and in Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products. Most Multistate Projects and IFAFS grants funded by CSREES have an active outreach effort and/or have extension workers as official members to assure that new knowledge is transferred to producers. Important components of these efforts are the Agricultural Databases for Decision Support that provide knowledge resources for dairy, beef, swine, sheep, goat, poultry, and catfish industries.
The ARS Eastern Regional Research Center seeks to improve the competitive position of the domestic tanning industry by reducing the cost of environmental compliance though modification of pre-tanning processes and by working with the livestock and packing industries to improve the quality of domestic hides. An onsite research and training tannery serves to scale up laboratory experiments for commercial operations. In cooperation with the Leather Industries of America, Inc., American tannery industry personnel receive training at the Lab to transfer newly developed technology to the private sector.
The United States Department of Agriculture, through its programs administered by ARS and CSREES is responsive to priority needs for research identified in FAIR 2002. Research by each agency conducted both independently and collaboratively enhances production efficiency and economic strategies at the farm and ranch level. New strategies, developed by ARS and CSREES funded scientists, to match characteristics of products from animal agriculture with demands from the international marketplace position producers and processors of animal products for global success. Development of new products or new technologies to enhance quality of existing products lead to innovative animal products for specialized markets and boost local economies. By transferring knowledge gained from research, devising strategies for matching characteristics of animal products with consumer demands, and developing new and innovative products ARS and CSREES funded scientists provide raw materials for producers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to shape the future of U.S. agriculture.
Improve Animal Food Products to Help People Live Better
Research has shown numerous health benefits for the inclusion of meat in one’s diet. Children’s learning and intellectual development have been linked to eating protein found in meat and eggs. Milk products are a rich source of bioavailable calcium which is critical for bone development in young children, especially for adolescent girls that are more prone to osteoporosis in later life. Minerals such as zinc and iron found in chicken, beef, and pork have been shown to benefit those with a compromised immune system. New research suggests that there may be other compounds derived from meat and dairy products, such as conjugated linoleic acid, that may prevent certain chronic diseases.
This goal has three objectives:
Current research in USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) that directly involves meat or dairy products to achieve each of these objectives are discussed below.
Objective 1: Research the contributions of meat, eggs, and diary products to healthy, balanced diets
CSREES Human Nutrition projects meeting this objective:
Joint ARS and CSREES projects meeting this objective:
Conducting studies to identify the most salient motivators and barriers influencing the consumption of calcium rich foods among adolescents; assessing knowledge and attitudes towards calcium rich foods among adolescents; assessing calcium intake among adolescents; and determining variation in motivators and barriers, attitudes and knowledge and consumption of calcium rich foods across age, gender and selected ethnic groups. (Involves land-grant universities from 10 states and ARS)
Objective 2: Create and identify functional foods from animals
ARS Human Nutrition projects meeting this objective:
CSREES Human Nutrition projects meeting this objective:
The human research will provide a better understanding of the antioxidant role of CLA. The animal research will provide directions on how to increase CLA production by ruminants. Increasing CLA in beef and milk benefits both consumers as benefitting health, and the beef and dairy industries by adding value to their products. (University of Nevada, Reno, NV, and University of California, Davis, CA, and others)
Joint ARS and CSREES Projects projects meeting this objective:
Objective 3: Determine how production and processing practices affect food quality
ARS Quality/Utilization projects meeting this objective:
CSREES projects meeting this objective:
Joint ARS and CSREES projects meeting this objective:
Develop Strategies and Technologies to Prevent, Diagnose, and Treat Animal Diseases
Animal disease is the single greatest hindrance to efficient livestock and poultry production. Recent experiences with avian influenza, foot and mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy point out the effects of disease on food supply and national economies. Rapid diagnostic tests, novel genetic vaccines, immune modulation strategies, identification of disease resistance genes, and increased biosecurity measures are needed to prevent or control outbreaks and the spread of animal diseases in the future. ARS and CSREES have efforts that address each of these areas. Space does not permit detailing all the recent progress implementing the FAIR2002 goal of “Protect Animal Health: Develop strategies and technologies to prevent, diagnose, and treat animal diseases.” Examples of how CSREES and ARS scientists have worked together to support this objective will be emphasized.
CSREES provides support for the health of livestock species, including horses and aquaculture, through several mechanisms. Hatch formula funds and Section 1433 Animal Health and Disease formula funds help colleges and universities maintain the infrastructure needed to respond to new disease threats that may arise, as well as continue to work with ongoing problems. A number of Multi-State Research/ Extension Projects [www.reeusda.gov/agsys/research] stimulate interstate cooperation for targeted animal health diseases and include ARS and university researchers. Competitive grant programs, most notably the National Research Initiative’s (NRI) Animal Health and Well-Being Program [www.reeusda.gov/nri], provide funds needed to conduct both basic and applied research. The Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS; www.reeusda.gov/ifafs) also addresses animal health needs. While CSREES provides funds for competitive programs, there are numerous instances of grants for collaborative research between ARS and university scientists. Congressional Special Grants to universities, which are focused on animal health are also administered by CSREES national program leaders.
ARS responds to animal health needs through National Program 103 (NP103). The Animal Health National Program conducts basic and applied research on selected diseases of economic importance to the U.S. livestock and poultry industries. A stakeholder’s workshop for the NP103 was held September 21-23, 1999. In two breakout sessions, lists of priorities for animal health research were collected, in addition to formal letters from producer organizations, international agricultural organizations, scientific societies, pharmaceutical industry groups, and governmental agencies. From this input the NP103 action plan for Animal Health was developed [www.nps.ars.usda.gov/programs]. This identifies specific research areas, locations, projects, and anticipated results, along with projected time lines and milestones. All ARS research projects associated with NP103 Animal Health were prepared using this action plan and evaluated by an external peer review panel [www.ars.usda.gov/osqr] in 2001. Documentation of collaboration with university scientists is provided.
To further implement FAIR2002 priorities, CSREES and the Federation of Animal Science Societies (with participation from ARS & APHIS) convened a 2 day workshop in December 1999. Scientific societies, commodity and federal partners recommended more than 50 domestic and foreign diseases (infectious/ non-infectious) for research support. A national program for microbial genomics was suggested, as was a future ARS and CSREES joint follow-up workshop for FAIR2002.
Objective 1: Detect and control diseases that threaten the food supply
A principal focus for ARS and CSREES is support for basic and applied research and extension related to animal disease agents. Areas include pathogenesis, epidemiology, disease resistance, and patho- physiology. ARS laboratories address the major production and foreign animal diseases, as well as risk assessment, vaccinology and animal immunology. CSREES also provided substantial support for animal health research during the past two years (www.reeusda.gov/nri/pubs/pubs). This should result in more effective vaccine strategies for improving animal health and preventing pathogenic infections. Coordination is exemplified by ARS scientists at the Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit, Auburn, Alabama and the Catfish Genetics Research Unit, Stoneville, Mississippi, who cooperate with university scientists at Auburn University, the Tuskegee Institute, Mississippi State University, and the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland to improve detection and diagnosis of fish pathogens and diseases; understand mechanisms of disease and genetic resistance to diseases; and develop vaccines. Cross cutting projects funded by both agencies also analyzed factors affecting animal disease and nutrition and food safety, as outlined in other sections of this report.
USDA sponsored efforts have been recognized by major scientific journals as making important contributions (www.reeusda.gov/nri/pubs/covers/brown.pdf). Work on Anaplasma marginale is another partnership example. Infection of U. S. cattle with this organism represents a trade barrier for U. S. cattle moving to Canada. An accurate diagnostic assay for the detection of cattle persistently infected with A. marginale was developed, patented and licensed by ARS Pullman and Washington State University scientists. The use of this assay confirmed A. marginale infection of Bison in Canada. It will also be used in collaboration with APHIS- CEAH scientists to determine the epidemiology of A. marginale infection within the U. S. Two additional examples of collaboration include finding that reducing potassium in feed decreases milk fever (http://www.reeusda.gov/nri/pubs/highlights/2000PDFs/Aug00.pdf ), and determining that dogs may be linked to Neosporosis in cattle (http://www.reeusda.gov/nri/pubs/highlights/2000PDFs/Apr00.pdf) .
Improved technology, at ever decreasing costs, now allows animal agriculture to chart an innovative course to identify the genes (building blocks) of the most important animal pathogens. Without the complete genetic code of a pathogen, research to develop new vaccines, diagnostic tests, or treatments, is conducted much like looking for a “needle in a haystack.” Once all the genes of a pathogen are known, however, the microbe is “naked;” researchers have a detailed picture of its defenses and attack plans.
In 1999, CSREES & ARS initiated the first International Agricultural Microbe Genomes conference to exchange ideas and applications among the scientific and public policy communities, and provide the most comprehensive genomics update. This success continues as part of the International Plant, Animal & Microbe Genomes conference [www.intl-pag.org] in 2002, a forum expected to exceed 1700 participants.
ARS and CSREES convened an electronic conference, the Microbial Genomics Workshop, in 2000 to receive input from stakeholders to help guide the USDA’s microbial genome programs (www.reeusda.gov/nri/pubs/news/microbialgenomics]. The panelists (26 investigators with diverse species expertise in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia) were linked to more than 35 invited stakeholder organizations including animal producers, veterinarians, scientific societies, Federal agencies, and international funding organizations. A high priority list of 15 animal health & food safety pathogens was developed, along with recommendations involving planning, critical resources, coordination, training and outreach. To improve international coordination and avoid duplication, a comprehensive list of ongoing sequencing projects on animal and food borne pathogens was compiled. A follow-up Microbial Genomics Workshop to update both the high priority list of animal pathogens not yet sequenced, and completed and ongoing animal projects, was begun in Fall, 2001.
Since FAIR2002, ARS and CSREES developed a 5-year plan for microbial genomics to provide a framework for future allocations (www.ostp.gov/html/microbial/ page 25). The USDA also chairs an active “Interagency Working Group on Microbial Genomics” under the office of the President that recently outlined a coordinated Federal effort spanning all major Federal agencies.
Both agencies increased federal funding for animal-related genome sequencing projects in 2000 and 2001. For example, CSREES created a new competitive “Microbial Genome Program” within IFAFS to support sequencing of microbes with relevance to the animal, plant, and natural resource areas; and, expanded support for animal pathogen sequencing projects in the NRI’s Animal Health and Well-Being Program. The sequencing of more than 10 pathogens has been initiated. Close coordination between CSREES’ land grant partners and ARS scientists is evident using two examples. ARS-NADC and University of Minnesota scientists were funded by CSREES-NRI and ARS for genome sequencing and analysis of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. This sequence information will be used to develop improved diagnostic tests and vaccines for Johne's disease. ARS funds supported the initiation of sequencing of Anaplasma marginale, and CSREES funds will support its completion. This collaboration will speed the development of a safe and efficacious vaccine.
Objective 2: Improve capacity to deal with new and re-emerging animal disease threats
Development and implementation of monitoring and surveillance systems to identify new and re-emerging disease pathogens, chronic infections and drug resistant pathogens will lead to improved animal health and lower production costs. Both ARS and CSREES contribute to the ability of APHIS to respond to emergency situations through their research programs on emerging or re-emerging diseases. The scientific results support the development of regulatory decisions and interventions. Currently both agencies are represented on two committees focused on these kinds of issues. They are the National Animal Health Emergency Management Task Force and the Federal Interagency Working Group for the Animal Disease Risk Assessment, Prevention, and Control Act of 2001 (PL107-9).
Both agencies anticipate providing increased funds for the detection, transmission, and inactivation of prions. Additionally, Special Grants are currently working on tuberculosis in Michigan, diseases of economic importance in trade at Colorado, poult enteritis at Purdue, and Brucella vaccines for bison at Montana. Thus far, no M. bovis has been found in 216 environmental samples (feed, water, soil, fecal material) from livestock operations with confirmed M. bovis infection. The Colorado project has developed a new single-step, one-tube multiplex RT-PCR for detection and differentiation of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (serotypes IN and NJ). The Montana project has developed an oral vaccine strategy that protected 75% of vaccinated bison in early trials. In addition, new work on oral transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from infected brain tissue of deer to calves has brought together university, ARS and APHIS scientists to assess the potential for CWD to be transmitted from wildlife to livestock.
With approximately 170 extension veterinarians, a network infrastructure is in place to transfer information and identify critical health issues. These veterinarians frequently collaborate with other animal scientists to implement new technologies at the production level. The recent re-emphasis of the significance of foreign animal disease issues has thrust many veterinary extension faculty into an expanded role in educating producers. This window of opportunity was bolstered by enhancing and disseminating already established biosecurity plans for disease control. Additionally, a Biosecurity Stakeholders Workshop was held at Beltville in October, 2001, and attended by USDA scientists from ARS, CSREES and APHIS. The recent foreign animal disease issues have served to strongly encourage the implementation of practical advice for utilizing best available technologies (BAT) regarding numerous endemic herd/flock disease control issues. Information dissemination was achieved through participation in multiple state, regional and national commodity livestock organizations, in addition to veterinary medical organizations.
Objective 3: Develop optimal production practices that promote animal health
Developing management practices that improve animal health is the target of several programs at CSREES and ARS. Numerous ARS locations and CSREES funded university scientists have developed effective vaccines to prevent infections in a range of food animals, as noted in the annual progress reports posted at their websites. Within the portfolio of multi-state research projects, several are focused on improved management systems to reduce or alleviate specific diseases. Conscious changes within the past 2-3 years in their research focus and direction have been incorporated in response to FAIR 2002 and other stakeholder input. For example, NC-107, Bovine Respiratory Disease, has representation from both ARS-NADC and APHIS-NVSL plus several universities, and is improving strategies for the prevention and control of respiratory disease. The group developed improved vaccines against Mannheimia haemolytica and also demonstrated the value of metaphylactic treatment (on arrival) to reduce outbreaks in feeder calves. W-102, Control of Animal Parasites in Sustainable Agricultural Systems, is focusing on integrated approaches to control of parasites and includes representatives from two ARS research facilities - Beltsville and Watkinsville, GA. Among their successes are: 1) development of genetic populations of sheep that are resistant to internal parasites, 2) demonstrating efficacy of a fungus to block survival of nematode larvae in feces on pastures, and 3) demonstrating that pre-grazing season treatment of cattle can result in pastures that are parasite-free over long time periods.
Using CSREES-NRI grant funds, a team involving Colorado State University, the University of Georgia, and feedlot managers has begun a 3-year multidisciplinary evaluation of fatal feedlot acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). They are determining which, if any, infectious agents are involved and whether management-related or environment-related factors put animals at risk. Research at the Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, NE, is developing information and technology needed in herd health and preventive medicine programs for use by producers, veterinary practitioners, agribusiness, and APHIS, targeting the epidemiology of major causes of respiratory diseases in cattle, swine, and sheep. Emphasis on disease prevention in small, sustainable and organic cattle production is supported through the Northeast Pasture Consortium in collaborations between ARS scientists at Beltsville, MD, and State College, PA, and the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Experiment Station.
Animal health remains a major component of research programs funded through USDA. Continuing efforts to maintain strong collaborative research projects are clearly reflected in the published literature and proposed research plans. Development and implementation of monitoring and surveillance systems to identify new and re-emerging disease pathogens, chronic infections and drug resistant pathogens will lead to improved animal health and lower production costs.
Improve Food Safety and Public Health: Safeguard Public Health and Reduce the Risk of Food-Borne Diseases
The U.S. food supply is abundant, affordable, and conveniently delivered to the consumer. While generally perceived as safe, public concern about food safety has increased. Each year in the U.S., an estimated 76 million persons contract foodborne illnesses with up to 5,000 deaths. A concern over foodborne illness and our food safety system prompted numerous activities including a report commissioned by Congress by the National Academy of Science and the President’s Food Safety Initiative in 1997. Since then, funding and various national initiatives involving collaborative activities have increased. CSREES and ARS have become leaders in food safety research, education, and extension by leveraging both their uniqueness and their ability to collaborate with each other. ARS is the principal ‘in-house’ research agency for USDA with > 2200 scientists in 100 locations. They maintain a close relationship with industry and other stakeholders so that when important methodologies are developed, the technologies can be transferred where needed in the field. CSREES is the primary extramural research agency with partnerships with the land grant university system so that CSREES may provide leadership in research, education, and extension programs. An integral part of CSREES is the National Research Initiative which is a competitive granting program. The following is a brief description of research, education, and extension efforts by both agencies to accomplish the three objectives under food safety.
Objective 1: Develop and demonstrate control procedures to eliminate hazards in animal foods from the farm and ranch to the grocery store
Through its food safety grant programs (the National Research Initiative, the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative, and the Initiative for the Future of Agriculture and Food Systems) as well as through special grants linked to other federal agencies, CSREES has developed important research programs. They include:
ARS scientists in various locations have developed these important technologies. They include:
Objective 2: Improve effectiveness of pathogen destruction technologies
Important research grants from CSREES include:
ARS scientists have played a significant role in the development of these intervention strategies:
Objective 3: Reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance to public health
CSREES grants have produced significant findings in antimicrobial resistance. They include:
ARS is carrying out significant research programs on antimicrobial resistance at 3 locations, Athens, Ames and College Station. A coordinated research plan includes:
Summary of CSREES/ARS Collaborative Efforts
CSREES and ARS have been partners and strong participants in federal inter-agency food safety committees which have helped shape food safety policy. They include the working groups that developed and wrote the Food Safety Strategic Plan and the work groups that helped develop and write the U.S. Public Health Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance. Other continuing committees include the Risk Assessment Consortium and the Joint Institute for Food Safety Research Advisory Committee. Both CSREES and ARS collaborated in FDA-CFSAN’s efforts to provide educational programs on the fresh fruit and vegetable guidelines. This is an international effort and ARS and CSREES personnel have traveled to Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and other countries to provide training.
Multi-state regional research committees provide coordination of various expertises among different states to address specific problems. Both ARS and CSREES are members of these various committees and provide leadership. These committees are important mechanisms to create networking and produce collaborative research opportunities. For example, there was a 2 day workshop last November to help strengthen the integration between the S-263 multi-state research group (Enhancing Food Safety through Control of Foodborne Disease) and the SERA-IEG2 information exchange extension group (food safety). This meeting provided the opportunity for researchers and extension specialists to exchange information. There was a communication link-up to extension educators in participating states to increase the dissemination of information.
With ARS taking the lead, both ARS and CSREES help provide support to USDA’s regulatory arm, the Food Safety and Inspection Service. For example, both CSREES and ARS provided scientists that described relevant research during a FSIS public meeting on proposed regulations of Listeria labeling for retail meats. CREES has linked FSIS with 7 different universities through special grants to provide HACCP training to small and very small processors. CSREES has participated in the joint ARS/FSIS research planning meetings to determine the direction of food safety research. Finally, ARS scientists have been able to combine research monies from ARS and grants from CSREES to advance food safety research.
Food safety will continue to remain a high priority with consumers, industry, and government. The research, education, and extension programs described above are a brief summary of the many activities, but they provide a framework for continued collaborations between CSREES and ARS. This partnership benefits other federal agencies and will continue to lead to future successes in food safety activities.
Devise Animal Production and Processing Systems that Sustain or Improve the Environment
Livestock and poultry production in the United States has become increasingly concentrated in confinement facilities often located on small land areas. Manure generated at approximately 280,000 animal feeding operations around the country can be used as a nutrient source for crops, to improve soil properties, and for alternative uses such as energy production. However, improperly managed manure poses a threat to soil, water and air quality, and to human and animal health. The main problems associated with manure management are: nutrient enrichment of soil and water; atmospheric emission of odors, ammonia and greenhouse gases; and pathogens and pharmaceutically active chemicals such as antibiotics that may contaminate food and water supplies. A cooperative effort involving research, extension, and education will be required to provide animal producers with cost-effective management practices, treatment technologies and decision tools to address these problems and to help them comply with impending environmental regulations. CSREES through its land grant university partners has approximately 400 CRIS projects that at least partially focuses on animal manure management. ARS has a National Program on Manure and Byproduct Utilization that involves research at 18 laboratories across the US.
Objective 1: Develop Better Scientific Measures and Diagnostic Tools To Protect Water, Soil, and Air Quality.
Comprehensive nutrient management practices are needed at the farm and watershed scale to protect water quality. Research is being conducted to develop: improved tests for nutrients in manure and soil treated with manure; soil threshold nutrient levels for protection of water quality; methods to identify areas in a watershed susceptible to nutrient losses; improved methods for precise application of manure; and models to predict nutrient inputs to sensitive bodies of water based on soil conditions, hydrology, weather and management practices.
Several advances have been made in this area. CSREES scientists have developed infrared technology to determine the nutrient content of wastewaters. ARS scientists are determining the rate of conversion of organic nitrogen in manure to forms that can be used by crops (mineralization) under a range of soil and environmental conditions. A decision tool will be developed to help producers determine manure application rates that will meet crop nitrogen needs while avoiding contamination of water. ARS and CSREES scientists are working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop and refine a tool, the Phosphorus Index, to identify critical areas on a farm or in a watershed that are susceptible to phosphorus losses to surface water. The Index identifies and ranks the vulnerability of soils, landscapes and management practices to phosphorus loss in runoff. The Index is being used by NRCS field staff to identify sensitive areas and target management alternatives to reduce environmental risk. Many states plan to use the Phosphorus Index to guide manure application decisions.
Improved methods to measure and quantify emissions will be required to develop cost-effective methods of emissions reduction and control. A greater understanding also will be needed of the mechanisms responsible for emissions, emission rates resulting from a variety of animal management practices, and methods to predict dispersion and transport of emissions across the landscape. ARS scientists have developed a small passive air sampler containing a solid-phase microextraction device to quantify volatile sulfur, amine and fatty acid compounds. Since gases captured by the air sampler can be measured at the parts per billion level using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, the device can be used to determine the effectiveness of emission reduction practices. ARS scientists are developing methods to measure and quantify emissions around animal production facilities, manure storage areas and field application sites using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and tunable lasers. One aspect of this study involves measurement of ammonia and volatile organic compounds attached to particulates that are captured downwind of swine production units. This approach will allow potential pathways and form of movement from production facilities to be determined.
CSREES scientists in a number of states have used human odor panels to detect odors emitted from animal production facilities. Progress in the development of an “electronic nose” may eliminate the need for human odor panels. Several multistate committees , with both CSREES and ARS scientists as members, focus on air quality issues: S-275, Animal Manure and Waste Utilization, Treatment, and Nuisance Avoidance for a Sustainable Agriculture; S-291, Systems for Controlling Air Pollutant Emissions and Indoor Environments of Poultry, Swine and Dairy Facilities; NCR-189, Air Quality Issues Associated with Animal Facilities. CSREES and ARS are represented on the USDA Air Quality Task Force that has identified three priority research areas: (1) particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), (2) ozone, and (3) odor and odorants.
Research is needed to determine survival, transport, and dissemination of manure pathogens and pharmaceutically active compounds in the environment to assess risks to human and animal health and to develop appropriate control measures. Methods for detection and accurate quantitation of pathogens and pharmaceuticals in complex matrices such as manure and soil will be needed. ARS scientists have developed a new methodology for the separation and detection of E. coli O157:H7 in surface waters. This method will be transferred to other scientists and to commercial water testing laboratories. ARS and CSREES scientists demonstrated that pathogens did not survive in the air over beef cattle feedlots in the Texas High Plains. However, pathogens like Salmonella, E coli O157:H7, and Cryptosporidium parvum where still present two months after being seeded into a manure pile. CSREES and ARS scientists are conducting research to measure and model the fate and transport of pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Cryptosporidium in soil, water and air.
Objective 2: Design and Demonstrate Production Systems and Management Practices that Reduce any Adverse Environmental Effects of Animal Agriculture
A systems research approach involving all phases of animal feeding; manure handling, storage and treatment; land application; crop production; and conservation practices will be required to reduce or eliminate any adverse environmental effects of animal agriculture. Animal diet and animal nutrition can influence the amount of manure produced, nutrients excreted in the manure and production costs. Current and future research approaches include: defining animal nutritional requirements, diet formulation, modified crops, addition of enzymes to increase nutrient digestibility in feed, and alteration of intestinal microflora. Progress has been made in lowering phosphorus levels in the diet of lactating dairy cows without compromising animal health and performance. Addition of phytase enzyme to the diet of swine and poultry has increased their utilization of phosphorus in grain. Development of grain with phosphorus in more readily digestible forms offers the possibility for more effective use of feed nutrients. Research is being conducted to evaluate alternative levels of fiber from feed grains to help reduce the amount of manure excreted. ARS and CSREES scientists in Texas and New Mexico are conducting cooperative research through the Consortium for Cattle Feeding and Environmental Sciences (CCFES). Scientists within the CCFES have designed a series of 11 experiments to study the effects of dietary protein and phosphorus nutrition on animal productivity, manure production, manure characteristics, ammonia emissions and runoff quality from beef cattle feedyards. These experiments should answer many questions about the effect of cattle feeding operations on environmental quality.
Efficient and cost-effective methods for manure handling, treatment and storage are needed to prevent movement of nutrients, gases and pathogens to soil, water and air. Management practices, treatment technologies, and decision aids are needed to transform or capture nutrients; reduce emissions of ammonia, malodorous compounds and greenhouse gases; kill pathogens; and reduce or eliminate off-site movement of pharmaceutically active compounds. ARS scientists have found that treatment of poultry litter in commercial houses with alum (aluminum sulfate) can lower ammonia emissions and reduce the solubility of phosphorus in manure. This treatment technology improves broiler health while protecting air and water quality. Last year approximately 500 million broilers were produced on alum treated litter.
CSREES and ARS scientists are developing systems of treatment technologies to manage wastewater from swine and dairy operations. Rapid and efficient separation of manure solids from the liquid phase of swine wastewater is a critical step in the development of treatment systems. A solids/liquid separation method based on injection of polyacrylamide polymers to increase solids flocculation and a sand filtration system has been developed. This method has been shown to: reduce suspended solids in the liquid phase by a factor of 60, capture over 80 percent of the organic nutrients in the solid phase where they can be more readily used, and produce removable cakes within 48 hours. A wastewater treatment technology, based on immobilization of nitrifying bacteria inside permeable polyvinyl beads, has been shown to effectively remove ammonia from swine wastewater. This technology has the potential to treat large amounts of ammonia in swine wastewater that would otherwise volatilize and escape to the environment. Alkaline addition to the effluent from this treatment can be used to participate and capture phosphorus, and to kill pathogens. Constructed wetlands have proved to be effective in converting nitrate in wastewater into harmless dinitrogen gas. These and other methods for wastewater treatment need to be further refined, then combined into a system of treatment technologies that can be used as an alternative to anaerobic lagoons.
Agricultural management practices significantly influence the environmental fate of manure nutrients. Management practices such as timing and placement of manure application, grazing management practices, water table control through subsurface drainage, use of cover crops to recycle nutrients, and placement and design of buffers; must be developed to prevent movement of excess nutrients to water and air. ARS scientists have developed a decision tool that will allow producers to identify pasture stocking rates that will protect water quality. Research is being conducted to develop animal production systems that will balance nutrient inputs and outputs at the whole-farm scale.
A number of extension and educational activities have been developed to transfer information about new production systems and management practices to the animal agriculture community. In 1998 the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP) jointly endorsed a national initiative on animal waste management. One result of this initiative has been the establishment of a network of research or extension contacts in each state who are organized on a regional basis to exchange information and plan programs. A national Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Curriculum has been developed by scientists from over 15 land grant universities, ARS and NRCS. The Curriculum was released on October 2, 2001 and will be explained at 10 workshops around the country. Research, extension and education projects have been funded through competitive and base fund programs administered by CSREES. The National Center for Manure and Animal Waste Management was funded through the Fund for Rural America program and involves cooperation among 16 institutions around the country.
Objective 3: Invent Technologies that Capture Value from Manure and Processed By-products
A variety of technologies are being developed to capture value from manure. Research is needed to optimize the use of manure for energy production through burning, methane generation or conversion to other fuels. CSREES scientists are developing thermophilic (high temperature) anaerobic digestion methods to produce methane from swine manure. Direct combustion of manure, either alone or mixed with other materials, for energy may be an option in areas with very high livestock or poultry concentrations and limited land availability. CSREES and ARS scientists are conducting research to mix, blend, or co-compost manure with selected industrial or municipal byproducts to produce materials for specialized uses. A landscape mulch produced from a blend of manure and newspaper, can be used for erosion control and grass establishment on lawns, road embankments and golf course fairways. Methods have been developed to concentrate and capture nutrients in manure which can then be used in high value fertilizers for agricultural and horticultural applications. Dried manure has been used as a component of materials used for construction of building walls. Researchers are finding ways to extract carbohydrate and protein fractions from animal manure. The carbohydrate fraction will be used for the manufacture of products such as plastics and antifreeze.
Enhance Animal Well-Being throughout the Food Production Cycle
Society has become increasingly aware of animal production, processing, and related issues. Over the centuries, farmers have cared for their animals on an individual basis. Now, animals are cared for more on a flock or herd basis. Food animal production is now valued at about $100 billion annually.
Some management practices appear inhumane to those who do not farm, are expensive, and cause a certain level of stress and pain to animals, but are generally conducted for valid animal health or personal safety considerations. These practices are being questioned by society, and conflicting views are being addressed. By examining these issues we may gain important insight into the physiological and other needs of animals that in turn may improve their lives and optimize their productive capacity. These advances may assist farmers to remain in business.
Animal well being issues are evolving to a level which may result in legislative or regulatory solutions to scientific questions. Other countries such as those in Europe and Scandinavia have proceeded with animal care regulations and standards that have had a tremendous impact on agriculture and society. Through international trade agreements, decisions made in these countries can directly affect USA industries and society.
Multi-state research committees have a long history of addressing current and future management issues through extensive cooperative efforts. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES/USDA) scientists are members of multi-state research committees organized by the Land Grant University (LGU) system and CSREES. These committees are essential mechanisms for LGU to create networking and collaborative research opportunities, thus reducing duplication of efforts. ARS, CSREES and LGU scientists participate in the North Central Region (NCR) 131, Animal Care and Behavior; Western Region (W) 173, Stress Factors of Farm Animals and their Effects on Performance; and Western Coordinating Committee (WCC) 204, Animal Bioethics committees. The 173 and 131 multi-state research projects often hold their annual meeting concurrently.
The ARS conducts research on animal well-being and stress under National Program 105 (NP105), “Animal well-being and stress control systems” (http://nps.ars.usda.gov/programs/105s2.htm). Research programs within NP105 fall within six components: 1. Scientific measures of well-being and stress; 2. Adaptation and adaptedness; 3. Social behavior and spacing; 4. Cognition and motivation; 5. Practices and systems to improve care and well-being; and, 6. Bioenergetic criteria for environmental management. Research units affiliated with NP105 are: Animal Physiology Research Unit, Columbia, MO; Biological Engineering Research Unit, Clay Center, NE; Livestock Behavior Research Unit, West Lafayette, IN; Livestock Issues Research Unit, Lubbock, TX; and the Poultry Research Unit, Mississippi State, MS. These units focus on multi-disciplinary research integrating measures of behavior, physiology and production efficiency that will contribute to balanced scientific knowledge on each of these categories.
The Food Animal Integrated Research (FAIR) 2002, was organized by FASS (Federation of Animal Science Societies) and the Animal Agriculture Coalition to identify research priorities to meet their goals, and to provide products for effective extension programs. Goal 6 of the FAIR 2002 report was to: Promote Animal Well-Being, to Enhance Animal Well-Being throughout the Food Production Cycle. Objectives under this goal are: 1. Develop better scientific measures to assess animal well-being, including pain, stress, and behavioral needs; 2. Determine the impact of current and alternative production systems on animal well-being and food quality, including handling, transportation, and slaughter; and, 3. Explore ethical issues in animal production and research. ARS National Program 105, Animal Well-Being and Stress Control Systems, CSREES’s multi-state research projects, and CSREES’s National Research Initiative each address objectives 1 and 2 of goal 6.
Objective 1: Develop Better Scientific Measures to Assess Animal Well-Being, including Pain, Stress and Behavioral Needs
Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching are the approved guidelines for research questions and used by ARS and LGU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees to answer questions of animal care. USDA scientists had important roles in the development of this document. LGU, ARS and other USDA scientists have recently been involved in developing FASS sponsored training modules and an ARPAS program of training certification based on the Guide.
University, ARS and CSREES projects or support address environmental and management stressors in W-173 that can erode efficiency and increase costs of production (e.g., summer heat stress; stressor-related neonatal mortality in swine). This team provides information on how animals interact with the production environment and respond to animal management practices. The 173 team members explore stressor effects on: 1. growth; 2. behavior and immunity; 3. thermal stress, regulation of body temperature and meat quality; 4. genetic components to environmental stress responses; 5. management of thermal stress; 6. social stresses (e.g., prenatal stress);7. other management stressors (e.g., dietary manipulations such as supplements and health manipulations such as tail docking, dehorning and castration).
CSREES’s National Research Initiative (www.reeusda.gov/nri) supports both fundamental and applied research for agriculture. Three of its programs (Animal Health and Well-Being; Animal Reproduction; Animal Growth & Nutrient Utilization) are the principal competitive funding sources for well-being and stress research. The solicitation for proposals mirrors language from FAIR2002; stressors and behavioral expression in major species are addressed. Eligibility is open to a wide audience in the U.S., including universities, colleges, private organizations, ARS and other Federal agencies, and individuals. From 1996-2000, 13 proposals were approved for NRI funding. Seven additional proposals were awarded for FY2001.
The USDA Animal Well-Being Task Force is composed of administrator level personnel, while the supporting Animal Well-Being Committee membership is from a variety of animal science related agencies including several ARS and CSREES scientists. Important contributions have been made by these groups in creating USDA policy and direction in the animal well-being area. Slaughter practices, beak trimming and molting of poultry are recent areas of concern.
Objective 2: Determine the IMpact of Current and Alternative Production Ssytems; Animal Well-Being, Food Quality, Handling, Handling, Transportation, Slaughter
NCR-131 projects include an Encyclopedia of Farm Animal Behavior, which uses a video and print format (www.liru.asft.ttu.edu/efab/index.htm), and is led by ARS personnel. The NCR-131 committee has been involved in creation of a transportation symposium and other activities at the American Society of Animal Science Annual meetings. They are also participants in or organizers of other workshops such as a recent conference at Purdue University. Team members review and provide comments on documents such as the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching.
Research functions of NCR-131 are to: 1. understand the physiological and environmental factors that influence, and are influenced by, animal behavior; this information enhances both productivity and animal welfare in production systems; 2. teach students about animal behavior to increase awareness and understanding of the intricate relationship between behavior, production, and animal well-being; 3. develop behavioral and physiological techniques and criteria for assessing the well-being of agricultural animals; 4. investigate existing housing systems and animal management practices and determine the efficacy of alternative systems and practices toward improving the well-being of agricultural animals.
There is collaboration between ARS and university faculty on animal well-being and/or stressors at Well-Being Centers or universities in Texas, Maryland, Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington, and Indiana, Kansas, and California. For example, research on swine health, well-being and productivity at the Animal Physiology Research Unit, Columbia, MO in collaboration with the University of Missouri, was recognized by the 2000 Innovation Award for Basic Research by the National Pork Producers Council. Work on nutritional supplements to alter the immune status of young pigs and response to disease challenges can be an alternative to subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics; and the use of stress related hormones during the early post-natal period to improve performance and well-being.
Objective 3: Explore Ethical Issues in Animal Production and Research
Western Region Coordinating Committee (WCC) 204, Animal Bioethics, was authorized in the summer of 2000, and the initial organizational meeting was held in Las Vegas in January, 2001. This group has a difficult agenda, that of providing leadership to create insight and opportunities regarding improved interactions and respect between the scientific community and the often confusing discipline of philosophy. A significant portion of the conflicts between activists and production personnel is due to a lack of understanding of each other’s viewpoint.
The objectives of the WCC-204 are to: 1. create a forum in which interested persons can discuss contentious social issues; 2. encourage development and coordination of activities and research projects; 3. deal with bio-ethical issues; 4. develop methods of outreach to allow scientists to respond directly to consumers and our critics; and, 5. provide a means of on-going critical analysis of our profession’s ability to address moral and socio-political issues. A short introductory symposium was held at the combined professional societies meeting this summer.
The Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) of the National Agricultural Library, USDA/ARS, supports the dissemination of objective information on laboratory animal research, and food animal research. An example of AWIC cooperation is their participation in developing and publishing the Animal Welfare Issues Compendium, coordinated by CSREES.
Objective 4: Identification of Emerging Issues
Only by constant vigilance and proactive efforts can we fulfill our responsibility to good animal husbandry and meet society’s changing expectations in the area of animal well-being. One potential area of increased emphasis is to address the suggestion that neutral organizations such as Land Grant Universities and state and Federal governments have an obligation to society to provide objective evaluations of animal rights and well-being issues. Then let society decide what is of importance by their purchasing patterns. For example, organic versus “natural“ or “free range” production of animals versus the more intensive confinement methods has long been an example of misunderstanding by consumers. Some people believe universities and governments have not fulfilled their obligations to these generally smaller producers through research and extension activities.
There is a need to stimulate coordinated multi-disciplinary research that incorporates production efficiency, physiological stressor evaluations and behavioral indicators of well-being. Research of management methods used in current and alternative systems are needed to understand and manage well-being and stress. Research on transportation stress in relation to food safety are being conducted at two ARS locations. We currently have limited knowledge of animals regarding the six components of the NP105.