Insights Livestock

Farm Babe: When mainstream media gets agriculture SO wrong


I woke up to some internet nonsense a few days ago, y’all.

Apparently this new “report” has come out scaring consumers about antibiotics in meat. This is 100 percent false, as all meat sold in the U.S. is antibiotic free. It’s the law, and consequences for breaking the law are harsh. There are also very strict regulations for livestock producers on how they use antibiotics, per the FDA. Farmers work very closely with their veterinarians to ensure livestock well being, and it’s quite common nowadays to raise animals with “no antibiotics, ever.”

Even if a farmer needs to treat, as you would treat your own family with meds if they got sick, there is a withdrawal period before that animal can legally go to market to ensure drug residues are out of their system. There are no antibiotics in meat.

So who’s claiming there are? Follow the money and check out the fear-based image below. This is a page out of the EWG or Food Babe book … fear sells, and the folks putting out this “report” are sponsored by organic industry lobbying groups. Friends of the Earth, Consumer Reports, Center for Food Safety, etc. The image alone is a red flag with a cow made out of pills. Really??? That’s not how it works. These people are not farmers and vets. What are they odds that they’ve never raised livestock a day in their life. They are not regulatory bodies. This is not peer-reviewed evidence.

When you check out their report, you’ll see that pretty much every fast food chain receives an “F” in their eyes, with the exception of a few chains that use “natural and organic” beef or line up with their view$. Chipotle (haven’t they gotten hundreds of people sick?) Panera, etc. Go figure. This report has an agenda. It says in the very first line that it was written specifically by organizations that are “working to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.” There no pretending it’s independent. It’s not science-driven or sourced by nonpartisan research. What bothers me most about this agenda is that they were able to push it and get it into places like MSN and CBS. You can email CBS at to explain why this is bad journalism.

The North American Meat Institute responded with this comment:

“The report is critical of and downgrades many restaurants for not having a policy related to antibiotic use for growth promotion and veterinary oversight, however as of 2017 the FDA no longer allows medically important antibiotics to be used for growth promotion purposes. Similarly, medically important antibiotics used in feed must be given with oversight from a veterinarian. It would be redundant for restaurants to have a policy about this because it is the law. It’s inappropriate and shameful for the groups to suggest that beef producers and veterinarians are violating the law as the report does without any evidence.”

Have there been problems with antibiotic use in the past? Sure. Is the industry perfect? Of course not. But the false fearmongering behind our food needs to stop. What I don’t understand is how these misinformation travels so quickly among all the major news outlets. CNN, MSN, CBS, some avenues of ABC, even my local news were all covering this on the same day. It’s very bizarre and clearly a planned effort/attack.

I’d really like to learn more about how this works via the media and PR and our industry probably needs to do a better job of explaining agriculture better in a more mainstream way. The same thing happens with the anti-GMO movement — a false or exaggerated scary story manages to get its way into journalists across all the major news outlets on the same day.

Heads up, your meat doesn’t have to carry a fancy marketing label for it to be healthy, humanely raised, delicious, and high quality. Any farmer can do an excellent job regardless of farm size or label. If you want to know the truth about farming, ask farmers, veterinarians, food safety experts, and others involved directly in how our food is grown and produced. Take a tour. And don’t fall for the media diet.

More on antibiotics here:


Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

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The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of AGDAILY.