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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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USDA Stakeholder Workshop for Animal Agriculture
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Workshop Purposes

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) Goals

Strengthen 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.

  • Purposes
  • Expected Outcomes
  • Agenda


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. 

Expected Outcomes

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
                            Moderator: Barbara Glenn, Federation of Animal Science Societies

                      Welcome and Introduction
                             Joseph Jen, Undersecretary-Research, Education and Economics
                             Colien Hefferan, Administrator, CSREES
                             Floyd Horn, Administrator, ARS

8:35 - 8:45        FAIR 2002 Overview
                             Jim Males, Chair of FAIR 2002 Program Committee

8:45 - 9:15        “Big Picture Facing Animal Agriculture”
                              Robert Goodale, Fellow at the Intitute of Mar Hill College, NC
Session 1: Improve Food Safety
                               Moderator: Leah Becker, National Pork Producers Council

9:15 - 9:45          Robert Buchanan, Director, Office of Science in 
                           for the Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA

9:45 - 10:15       ARS/CSREES Team: 
                          Summary Overview and Coordination example(s)
                               Jan Singleton, CSREES

10:15 - 10:45      BREAK

Session 2: Promote Animal Well-Being
10:45 - 11:15   Jeffrey Armstrong, Dean of Agriculture and Natural 
                        Resources, Michigan State University

11:15 - 11:45   ARS/CSREES Team: 
                        Summary Overview, Richard Reynnells, CSREES
                        Coordination example(s), Donald Lay, ARS

11:45 - 1:00     BUFFET WORKING LUNCH (Table Discussions) 

Session 3: Enhance Human Nutrition
                           Moderator: David Meeker, National Turkey Federation

1:00 - 1:30       Bruce Watkins, Professor, Department of Food Science, Purdue

 1:30 - 2:00      ARS/CSREES Team: 
                        Summary Overview and Coordination example(s), Etta Saltos, CSREES

Workgroups Sessions 1, 2, 3
2:00 - 2:05       Charge to Workgroups, Larry Miller, CSREES

2:05 - 4:00       Workgroups
                             Moderator: Bernadette Dunham, American Veterinary Medical
                                  Improve Food Safety
                                  Promote Animal Well-Being
                                  Enhance Human Nutrition

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
                              Moderator: James H. Hodges, President, American Meat Institute

Session 4: Strenthen Global Competitiveness
8:15 - 8:45       Clayton Yeutter, Former Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade 

8:45 - 9:15        ARS/CSREES Team:
                         Summary Overview, Mike MacNeil, ARS
                         Coordination example(s), Richard Frahm, CSREES    

Session 5: Protect Animal Health
9:15 - 9:45       Alfonso Torres, Deputy Administrator, Veterinary Services, APHIS,

9:45 - 10:15      ARS/CSREES Team: 
                         Summary Overview, Pete Johnson, CSREES
                         Coordination Example (s), Joan Lunney, ARS

10:15 - 10:45     break

Session 6: Ensure Environmental Quality
10:45 - 11:15   John Bizic, Director of Land and Nutrient Management for Murphy
                        Farms, LLC  

11:15 - 11:45   ARS/CSREES Team:
                        Summary Overview Mary Ann Rozum, CSREES
                        Coordination example(s) Robert Wright, ARS

11:45 - 1:00     Working Lunch

Workgroup session 4, 5, 6
1:00 - 1:05      Charge to Workgroups, Larry Miller

1:05 - 3:00       Workgroups
                             Moderator: Bernadette Dunham, American Veterinary Medical
                                  Strengthen Global Competitiveness
                                  Protect Animal Health
                                  Ensure Environmental Quality

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
Federal Agencies only
                          Moderator: Larry Miller, CSREES 

8:30 - 9:30       Review recommendations for each goal and identify cross-cutting
                        suggestions to enhance implementation

9:30 - 11:00     Identify areas which are, or can be, implemented jointly vs. single
                        agency response.

11:00 - 12:00   Separate meetings for each Goal to identify specific follow-up actions to
                        enhance implementation.

12:00               Adjourn

Stakeholder recommendations
  • GOAL 1:  Strengthening Global Competitiveness
  • GOAL 2:  Improve Human Nutrition
  • GOAL 3:  Protecting Animal Health
  • GOAL 4:  Improve Food Safety
  • GOAL 5:  Ensure Environmental Quality
  • GOAL 6:  Promote Animal Well-Being
  • Overarching Themes and Potential Actions to Improve Implementation 

Examples of Effective Collaborative Programs/Activities

  • National Animal Germplasm Program and National genome database
  • Conducted research on phosphorous and nitrogen utilization by animal agriculture enhancing environmental stewardship
  • Jointly planned and coordinated USDA Aquaculture Research

Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness

  • Research to provide basis for issues related to international trade (WTO), food safety standards (Codex), and environmental standards (ISO)
  • Enhance development of innovative technologies, products, and production systems to meet international and national market demands and tracking systems
  • Coordinate research with protocols for assessing risks and establishing regulations
  • Recognize differences for geographic regions and producer size when establishing research priorities
  • Provide the science base needed to create criteria leading to the introduction of new products/technologies

Examples of Effective Collaborative Programs/Activities

  • Carried out a program to enhance consumption of calcium rich foods among adolescents
  • Conducted research to modify composition of milk fat
  • Converted the liability of producing foods high in selenium to marketable assets

Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness

  • Emphasize “Food Systems” approach; foods/meals/diets in addition to nutrient only programs; consider nutrition affects and/or consequences from animal inputs all the way through consumer purchase.
  • Conduct research directly focused on dietary patterns and biomarkers to define tangible benefits to support the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.
  •  Research/development on animal based functional food delivery systems to demonstrate benefits to populations in developing and industrialized countries.
  • Discovery and analysis of animal derived components related to “health” benefits of animal food products.
  • Use genomics and functional genomic techniques to maximize nutrition quality of animal foods to enhance nutrient status.
  • Consider nutritional content as part of quality definition.
  •  Provide nutritional information to meet the needs of specific subgroups in populations

 Examples of Effective Collaborative Program/Activities

  • Initiation of the first International  Agricultural Microbial Genetics Workshop.
  • Coordinated programs to prevent and control of respiratory diseases.
  • Conducted collaborative research with the Northeast Pasture Consortium

 Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness

  • Improve interactions and communications among national associations, agencies, and Congress. 
  • Investigate biological linkages among animal health, food safety/animal well-being.
  • Investigate husbandry and handling systems that promote wellness and reduce need for treatment, alternative treatments to control animal diseases. 
  • Consider wildlife epidemiology and diagnostics in farm animal health management. 
  • Develop a sound business case for enhancing ARS infrastructure to address disasters. 
  • Include monitoring, surveillance, control and prevention of diseases of wildlife. 
  • Use genomics to identify disease resistant phenotypes that are healthier under different management systems. 
  • Validate management practices as they relate to animal health. 
  • Develop real time diagnostic tools

Examples of Effective Collaborative Programs/Activities

  • Collaborated with FDA on education programs of fresh fruits and vegetables for food safety.
  • Participation on joint multi state research committees to control food borne diseases.
  • Supported FSIS with relevant data on Listeria labeling for retail meats

Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness

  • Improving communications between USDA partners and stakeholders.
  • Focus on new research areas such as:
         *  risk models from farm to table (risk cost trade-offs)
         *  validation of management systems (e.g. Trichina)
         *  real-time methods
         *  technologies for diverse scale of operations
         *  antibiotic resistance including:
                  -  quantification of the problem
                  -  measure public health impact
                  -  measure economic impact
                  -  development of alternative approaches/strategies
                  -  use multi-discipline scientific teams to increase collaborations among 
                      agriculture and biomedical scientists

Examples of Effective Collaborative Programs/Activities

  • Developed and refined the phosphorus index collaboratively with NRCS. 
  • Jointly participated on the USDA Air Quality Task Force. 
  • Developed a National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Curriculum

 Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness

  • Conduct research on mortality management for large mammals routine and large scale biodisasters. 
  • Develop tools to measurement air quality, pathogens, nutrients, toxins, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals etc. (real time, accurate, inexpensive, simple). 
  • Conduct market research on new and value added products.
  • Consider economic feasibility and realities for research outcomes. 
  • Determine the role of grazing systems in environmental stewardship. 
  • Establish databases for collecting and sharing of information at various stages of validation. 
  • Use interdisciplinary/systems approach within the framework of international, national agencies, academia, and industry.

Examples of Effective Collaborative Programs/Activities

  • Conducted collaborative animal care and behavior research through multi-state  committee.
  • Conducted collaborative research on stress factors of farm animals through multi-state committee. 
  • Animal well-being research jointly conducted by ARS and University scientists at three locations.

Recommendations for Improving Effectiveness

  • Develop better scientific measures to assess animal well-being, including pain, stress, and behavioral needs. 
  • Assemble a multi-disciplinary team to develop and validate an Index of Animal Well-Being including production, physiology, ethology, immune systems along with a scientific base for measuring pain, stress and distress and a baseline of care. 
  • Develop and evaluate production systems on farms of various sizes and management practices that enhance animal well-being.
         -  Certification
         -  Evaluate economic incentives
         -  Discover integrated synergies (food safety, environment)
         -  Train additional scientific personnel with applied animal behavior expertise.
         -  Expand research to include all components of the production system.
         -  Provide greater focus on ethics and systems approach.
         -  Assess the impact of “gate keeping industries reflecting consumer 
             wants” on farm production practices. 

Overarching Themes and Potential Actions to Improve Implementation

1.  Better Communications

  • Technology transfer/education
  • Involve customer/stakeholder in developing research agenda
  • Communication with customer/stakeholder beyond leaders and organizations (to end users)
  • Make information databases more user friendly
  • Improve awareness and access to information via websites and internet

2.  Whole Systems Approach

  • Interdisciplinary approach
  • Alternative production system evaluation
  • Systems link – animal well-being/animal health/food safety
  • Research needs to link inter-relationships
  • Multiple locations
  • Include/require in request for proposals (Action)
  • Explore ways to allow better coordination/cooperation between intramural and extramural research (Action)
  • Explore issues of scale in all appropriate research (Action)
  • Involve all “partners” customers/stakeholders in process of setting research agenda/implementation/outreach
  • Agencies may need to fund some participants (Action)
  • Define extension role in outreach delivery mechanisms and translating research to small producers (AMS is the lead agency for USDA working with small and disadvantaged producers.) 
  • Build stronger and mutually supportive relationships with sustainable agriculture stakeholders.

3.  Rapid Tests/Measures

  • Prompt technology transfer and identify resources (Action)
  • Inventory of expertise/capabilities locations, laboratories, scientists, and hazards

4.  Economic Evaluation, Economics/Value of Intervention

  • Include economic component in planning and conducting research
  • Link to systems approach
  • Require in request for proposals (Action)
         -  Identify need for economists to be involved
         -  Identify ways to get economic input in intramural research activities

5. Genomics

  • ARS/CSREES develop a plan to expand work in genomics
         -  Build support for work
         -  Broad approach for agriculture genomics
         -  Define potential benefits and outcomes in genomics
         -  Publicize advances and benefits from genomics research
         -  Develop bioinformatics capabilities
         -  Expand partnerships

6.  Multidisciplinary Approach

  • Explore ways to train and reward interdisciplinary research
  • Explore ways to expose students to working in a multi-disciplinary environment
  • Encourage interdisciplinary collaboration

7. Global Trade/Competitiveness

  • Develop a science base for international environmental standards and food safety standards

8. Infrastructure Capacity

  • Increase training of scientists in needed areas of expertise
  • Need for “re-tooling” training (Action)
  • Expand/update expertise of scientists
  • Compensate higher skill levels/specific specialties
  • Interdisciplinary research requires more support (more expensive/longer term). (Action: build understanding and support for it)
  • Develop capacity to meet future research needs such as BL 4 facilities

9. Expand Partnerships

  • Add industry partnerships
  • Engage consumers in research planning
         -  Strengthen partnerships between ARS/CSREES through joint planning,
             budget, and program reviews

Insights on Ways to Enhance Implementation

  • May need to better define our customers and stakeholders
  • Need to communicate “beyond” the “Leaders” of organizations.
         -  Message often does not get down to “problems”
         -  Publicize “Victories” of Agriculture Research
         -  Need to build support from related agencies
         -  CDC/NIH


Goal 1: Strengthening Global Competiveness

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.

Goal 2: Improve Human Nutrition

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:

  • Research the contributions of meat, eggs, and dairy products to healthy, balanced diets.
  • Create and identify functional foods from animals.
  • Determine how production and processing practices affect food quality. 

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

  •  ARS Human Nutrition projects meeting this objective
  • Compared the effects of consuming a high meat (about 10 oz. per day of meat as beef, pork, chicken, and fish) to low meat diet (1.5 oz per day) for 10 weeks on iron absorption in men.  This has also been tested in women.  (Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND (GFHNRC))
  •  Compared the effects of high (20% energy, 10.5 oz per day) and low meat diets (12% energy, 10.5 oz per day) on calcium retention in postmenopausal women.  Meat was present as beef, pork, turkey and chicken.   (GFHNRC)
  •  Research ongoing on the relationship of zinc to cognitive function in school-aged children.  (GFHNRC)
  •  Research ongoing on the relationship between iron status and cognitive function in adults.  (Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis, CA (WHNRC))
  •  Conducting human and animal studies on the potential health benefits of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  (WHNRC)
  •  Analyzed epidemiological data on relationship between protein intake and bone health in the elderly.  (Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA (HNRC))
  • Studies ongoing to define a more optimal fat level, especially in terms of fat and cholesterol content which are effective in reducing LDL cholesterol, as well as other favorable heart disease risk factors.  (HNRC)
  • Studies ongoing to assess the effects of calcium intakes on bone development in early childhood (Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX,(CNRC)); examining the calcium and vitamin D requirements for older adults, and identifying differences in age-dependent gene expression which may be responsible for calcium malabsorption. (HNRC)

 CSREES Human Nutrition projects meeting this objective:

  • Conducting studies to identify and test sources of n-3 fatty acids appropriate for supplementation of infant and maternal diets; and to assess the maternal diet for factors influencing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and n-3/n-6 ratio in human milk. (Auburn University, Auburn, AL)
  • Behavioral intervention study designed to improve calcium intakes and bone health among Asian, Caucasian and white Hispanic adolescents, with the idea of reducing their risk for osteoporosis later in life.  A determination will be made as to whether this intervention can insure equivalent intakes of calcium between digesters and maldigesters; and if psychological assessment tools can predict successful intervention.  (Involves 9 land-grant universities)
  • Conducting studies to show that moderate amounts of beef in a balanced diet, when compared to mixed protein sources, is of sufficient benefit to improve or maintain iron, zinc and copper status without compromising desirable blood lipid concentrations. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA)
  • Studies being conducted to examine vitamin B6 status of subjects fed beef or lacto-ovo diets, and compares the bioavailability of vitamin B6 from these diets. (Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR and Washington State University, Pullman, WA)

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:

  • Conducting studies to determine if the selenium in beef has similar biological properties to other forms of selenium.  If their studies show that the form of selenium in beef is beneficial than this would enhance value to consumers and profitability to producers. (GFHNRC)

CSREES Human Nutrition projects meeting this objective:

  • Developing dietary strategies to increase ruminal production of CLA isomers with the highest potential in protecting humans against atherosclerosis. 
  • Evaluation of potential dietary strategies that increase production of CLA with the highest health benefits will be validated in beef and dairy cattle.

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:

  • Identifying and characterizing important regulatory steps in fatty acid synthesis and desaturation and their positional distribution on glycerol in milk fat; quantifying modification of milk fat composition by manipulating the diet of the cow; and characterizing the effects of modified milk fats on physical, chemical, manufacturing, and sensory properties of dairy products. (Involves land-grant universities from 10 states and ARS)
  • Determining whether the former liability of producing wheat, meat and vegetables in high-selenium areas can be converted to a marketable asset by using these foods to provide supplemental dietary selenium.  Studies are being conducted to determine factors that regulate selenium accumulation in foods.  Nutritional studies will determine how selenium in foods is utilized by laboratory animals and will estimate the health benefits that come with consumption of that selenium. (ARS, 3 land-grant universities, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine)

Objective 3: Determine how production and processing practices affect food quality

ARS Quality/Utilization projects meeting this objective:

  • Developing methods for rapid assessment of tenderness and simultaneously developing new technologies to prepare meat that will have consistent, improved, and uniform tenderness throughout the meat cut.  Use of hydrodynamic pressure wave technology, plasma pulse sparking technology, and other newly emerging pressure technologies are being evaluated as to their potential to improve tenderness and contribute important processing attributes to value-added meat products. (Beltsville, MD)
  • Determining the relative contributions of postmortem proteolysis, sarcomere length, and collagen content to variation in eating quality of the major beef muscles.  In one area, they are determining consumer satisfaction with beef cuts from carcasses classified as “tender” using different classification methodologies. (Clay Center, NE)
  • Determine the relative contribution of connective tissue, muscle shortening, and protein degradation during aging in the tenderness of different muscles to enable the beef industry to develop cut specific tenderization strategies, thereby improving tenderness, value, and consumer satisfaction for many cuts currently marketed at reduced prices because of poor eating quality. (Clay Center, NE)
  • Optimizing textural and functional properties of poultry meat, with emphasis on breast muscles, by tailoring the processing sequence to the particular muscle based on fiber type.  (Athens, GA) 
  • Defining the multidimensional relationships of sensory, chemical, and physical properties of muscle foods in order to develop quality indexes to predict consumer-driven acceptance criteria, such as “tenderness” of meat. (Athens, GA) 

CSREES projects meeting this objective:

  • Determine ways to detect bone fragments in poultry meat using combined X-ray and laser imaging. (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR)
  • Develop a better understanding of how changes in the calpain system relate to meat tenderness. (University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ)
  • Develop a better understanding of the plasmin system regulation in milk and its effect on quality of dairy products. (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN)
  • Create a new technology for on-line, non-contact monitoring for poultry meat cooking process that will aid quality-control personnel to enhance the quality and safety of ready-to-eat boneless chicken products. (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR)
  • Establish the role of tissue oxidation in regulating postmortem calpain activity and resultant meat tenderness. (Iowa State University, Ames, IA)
  • Determine the mechanisms of off-odor production in irradiated meat; screen antioxidants that can reduce lipid oxidation and off-odor production in irradiated meat; determine the effect of selected antioxidants on sensory characteristics and consumer acceptance of irradiated turkey breast meat. (Iowa State University, Ames, IA)
  • Improve the stability of minced muscle foods to lipid oxidation and/or to reduce the amount of lipid-soluble phenolic antioxidants that must be added to achieve a desired level of stability. (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA)
  • Study the cause and control of off-flavor in irradiated meat and consumer willingness to pay premium price for irradiated ground beef. (Iowa State University, Ames, IA)

Joint ARS and CSREES projects meeting this objective:

  • Determine desirable changes in the level and composition of the carcasses of meat animals through gene manipulation and regulation adipogenesis. (Involves land-grant universities from 12 states and ARS)
  • Studying the molecular regulation of skeletal growth and differentiation; determining molecular mechanisms that control gene expression in skeletal muscle; and characterizing mechanisms of cytoskeletal protein assembly and degradation in skeletal muscle.  (Involves land-grant universities from 13 states and ARS)

Goal 3: Protect Animal Health

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 [] 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 [], provide funds needed to conduct  both basic and applied research. The Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (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 []. 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 [] 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( ), and determining that dogs may be linked to Neosporosis in cattle ( .

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 [] 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 (].  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 ( 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.

Goal 4: Improve Food Safety

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:

  • An evaluation of the effect of water chlorination on the prevalence of E.coli 0157:H7 and Campylobacter in feedlot cattle (Washington State University).
  • An evaluation of the epidemiological aspects of combining E.coli 0157:H7 control programs and feedlot performance (Kansas State University).
  • An evaluation of a novel strategy to test and monitor beef feedlot food safety control points (University of Nebraska).
  • Training for monitoring and decreasing the levels of Salmonella in swine through the use of antibiotic alternatives (Iowa State University).
  • Development and evaluation of a farm-based strategy for the removal of campylobacters from poultry intestinal tracts prior to processing using bioactive nanoparticles  (Clemson University).
  • Evaluation of strategies to corrupt the stress response systems of E. coli O157:H7, making the organism unable to survive in the bovine gastrointestinal tract (University of South Alabama).
  • Characterization of different Listeria monocytogenes isolates of human, animal, and food origins by different methods in order to understand which specific subtypes cause human disease and how they differ from those subtypes not causing disease (Cornell University).
  • The determination of risk factors associated with the contamination of fresh produce with human pathogenic organisms (The Tri-State Fruit & Vegetable Safety Consortium)

ARS scientists in various locations have developed these important technologies. They include:

  • The development of a competitive exclusion culture under the trade name PREEMPTTM  to control Salmonella on commercial broiler farms.
  • The development of a competitive exclusion method using sodium chlorate as a feed additive for cattle, swine and poultry to selectively kill foodborne pathogens, e.g. Salmonella and E. coli O157 in the animal gut.
  • The development of an electrostatic ionization space charger to reduce the number of airborne bacteria including  Salmonella enteritidis in the hatching and production environment.
  • The development of a pre-harvest certification program for Trichinella.
  • The evaluation of the practice of holding swine at the abattoir prior to slaughter as a source of Salmonella infection of market pigs.
  • The development of imaging technology for the automated on-line inspection of poultry, beef and produce, to screen for wholesomeness, feces and ingesta.   

Objective 2:  Improve effectiveness of pathogen destruction technologies

Important research grants from CSREES include:

  • The determination of the efficiency of certain gases on inactivation and inhibition of significant pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, lettuce, and mushrooms (Purdue University).
  • The development and distribution of information and technical tools necessary for the U.S. meat and poultry industry to meet federal regulations that specify lethality performance standards for fully-cooked products (Michigan State University).
  • The development and validation of models for the destruction of foodborne pathogens using high hydrostatic pressure processing methods. (University of Delaware).
  • The development and validation of models for microbial inactivation during convection cooking of meats (Michigan State University).
  • The verification of safe cooking endpoints for beef and pork using multiple antigen ELISA (Texas A&M University).
  • The determination of the effectiveness of various combinations of heat and disinfectants/ detergents on inactivation of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on alfalfa seeds (University of Georgia).

ARS scientists have played a significant role in the development of these intervention strategies:

  • The development of red meat carcass antimicrobial spray treatments including: steam vacuums, high pressure water, and hot water; organic acids, plant-derived and synthetic chemicals.
  • The development of materials that inhibit bacterial attachment such as polished stainless steel, metals, rubber and plastics to prevent pathogen transfer to food during processing.
  • The development of a vacuum-steam-vacuum (VSV) process to reduce pathogens on the surfaces of foods such as: poultry, red meats, hot dogs, hams, fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • The development and validation of processes for the destruction of foodborne pathogens using hydrodynamic (pressure-wave) and plasma-pulse spark technology.
  • The development and validation of control procedures to prevent inconsistent cooked color-  cooked meat during cooking of hamburger meats.
  • The validation of control procedures to remove pathogens from aquaculture products.
  • The investigation of the use of bacteriophages applied to processed (meats) and non-processed packaged (fruit slices) food products to kill pathogens.
  • The evaluation of the use of a variety of natural (bacteriocins such as nisin) and synthetic organic chemicals (acids such as benzoate) as additives to packaged food products.
  • The evaluation of  the use of low temperature (cold shock) to sensitize pathogens to a subsequent thermal or UV processing step for fruit juice production/processing.
  • The development and evaluation of a variety of chemical, physical, alternative packaging and storing intervention strategies for fresh fruits, vegetables and seed decontamination.
  • The determination of whether the shelf life of ground meats could be extended by a combination of low-dose gamma irradiation, modified atmosphere and cold storage.
  • The development and validation of time temperature models for FSIS and industry to inactivate pathogens in meats, and for the safe cooling rates of processed foods.
  • The development and validation of microbial models for food processing systems to predict the behavior of bacterial pathogens. 

 Objective 3:  Reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance to public health

CSREES grants have produced significant findings in antimicrobial resistance. They include:

  • The determination of the risk factors for Salmonella and Campylobacter infections and their drug resistance in dairy cattle (Michigan State University).
  • The determination of the ecology of antimicrobial resistance of enteric Salmonella and E.coli in cattle (University of California).
  • The evaluation of  the prevalence of foodborne antibiotic resistant and extraintestinal pathogenic E.coli in retail and pet foods (University of Minnesota).
  • The description of the dynamics of antibiotic resistance in commensal E.coli isolated from calves, linkage of the patterns of resistance to management and environmental attributes, and development of educational modules (University of California).
  • The determination of an association between the use of antimicrobial agents in swine production and the presence of antimicrobial resistance in human food-borne pathogens isolated from slaughter pigs (Michigan State University).
  • The determination of the effect of antimicrobial treatment on the development of resistance in bacteria present in dairy cattle, and development of prudent antimicrobial-use guidelines specific for dairy cattle (Ohio State University).
  • The determination of the progression of antimicrobial resistant phenotypes among enterohemorrhagic E. coli phenotypes of animal and human origin over the past thirty years (University of Maryland).

ARS is carrying out significant research programs on antimicrobial resistance at 3 locations, Athens, Ames and College Station. A coordinated research plan includes:

  • The identification of the genetic mechanisms associated with the development and maintenance of antimicrobial resistance and development of  rapid tests to identify resistance genes.
  • The determination of what effects the acquisition of resistance confers on the bacterium.
  • Prospective ecological studies to better define the acquisition, transmission, and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance.
  • A major role in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) in cooperation with USDA-FSIS, USDA-APHIS, CDC and FDA. ARS determines the profile of antibiotic resistance of veterinary and slaughter bacterial pathogen isolates.

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.

Goal 5: Ensure Environmental Quality

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.

Goal 6: Promote Animal Well-Being

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” (  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 CycleObjectives 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 ( 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 (, 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.

Selected Accomplishments


  • Tail docking is a contentious issue.  Abnormal neural formations were observed in tail-stumps of pigs, and temperature increased in tail-stumps of heifers.  Similar observations are noted in humans, which leads to the need for further pain research.
  • Lean-type pigs were found to exhibit greater anxiety and altered immune response and neuro-chemisty when handled compared to conventional pigs.  This information will be useful in balancing productivity and well-being traits in future genotypes of swine.
  • Excessive cattle movement generates dust exceeding levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Changing feeding time from morning to near sunset altered dust generating behavior and reduced dust levels to below EPA allowable limits.
  • Neonatal mortality and low growth performance of surviving piglets are a major cost to swine production.  Plasma proteins in weaning diets provided protection from infectious disease.  This discovery improves piglet health, well-being, and productivity.
  • Heat stress is a major problem in food animal production.   Respiration rate was identified as an early indicator of stress and these findings have led to guidelines for managing cattle during hot weather and a respiration rate evaluation system for swine. 


  • Monitoring cattle pasture using GPS and GIS systems found that the distribution of animals was not even across pasture areas, but was affected by many environmental and management variables.  Intensively managed paddocks may elicit different behavior than extensive systems.
  • Infrared technology was evaluated as a useful and accurate tool for the early identification and correction of heat stress in cattle.
  • Pregnant gilts from diverse environments (indoor/outdoor) housed in gestation crates and fed conventional diets or high-fiber diets showed few physiological signs of stress. Feeding high-fiber diets did not result in animal welfare advantages, and has possible adverse environmental impacts so feeding high-fiber diets may not be a good option.
  • Housing modifications improved their walking ability and led to improvements in broiler well-being, without compromising growth efficiency.  An improved system to assess lameness in chickens was developed.
  • Research on the expression of cannibalism found keeping hens in small groups, and installing visual barriers throughout the poultry house, could minimize this behavior.

Last Modified: 3/25/2002