Extension Education Symposium: The future of biosecurity and antimicrobial use in livestock production in the United States and the role of extension.
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As the global population continues to grow, food needs will increase as well. The amount of land and other resources devoted to agriculture production is not expected to grow significantly, leading most to agree that the substantial increases in food production to meet food security needs will come through the development of technologies that improve production efficiency. Diseases are constant threats to efficiency in all segments of agriculture. In livestock production, many of the bacterial pathogens that infect food animals are controlled through the use of antimicrobials. Antimicrobials are currently used in the United States not only to treat specific diseases, but also as feed additives to prevent bacterial disease in general or to improve growth performance. In recent years, there have been several proposals in the United States, both at state and federal levels, aimed at curtailing or dramatically reducing the use antimicrobials as feed additives, creating a policy similar to that of the European Union. Here we review the current policies on antimicrobial use in the European Union and their impact on food animal production. In addition, we discuss the future of antimicrobial use in food animal production in the United States and the increasing role of biosecurity programs. Finally, we discuss the role of Cooperative Extension Service in creating improved biosecurity programs and extension programs that provide policy makers and voters information on modern food animal production practices and technologies so that policies and regulations are effective and appropriate.