Cattlemen Testify at Animal Welfare Hearing
WASHINGTON - Paxton Ramsey is a Texas cattle producer and member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). In testifying on behalf of the American rancher before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, Ramsey reaffirms the importance of animal welfare to the cattle industry.
“As a rancher, the care and well-being of my livestock is top priority. Ranchers are the original proponents of animal care and welfare because we understand the moral obligation that comes with being a steward of our animals. We spend every day living off the land, working with our livestock - and it is our passion.
“This long-standing commitment to the health and welfare of our animals is probably not something we talk about enough in public, because it is not something that we have to make a conscious decision to pursue. Good care of our animals is second nature to us. It is not something we do because it is popular or newsworthy. We do it because these animals depend on us and we cannot fail them.
“Taking good care of our livestock is not just about doing the right thing; it also makes good business sense. It is well-recognized by our entire industry that it is in everyone’s best interest – from producer to packer – to handle animals humanely. Sound animal husbandry practices – based on generations of research and practical experience – are known to impact the well-being of cattle, individual animal health, and herd productivity.
“NCBA has long taken its role in animal welfare seriously. As the trade association for America’s cattlemen, we have a role to help educate and train our members in the proper care and handling of livestock. These discussions began at the grassroots level and have involved the expertise of all entities associated with our business. Producer-led initiatives include NCBA’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program and the cattle industry’s “Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Cattle.”
“Created in 1987, BQA unites animal scientists, veterinarians, feed suppliers, animal health companies, packers, and retailers with producers. The BQA program provides guidelines for livestock care and handling, nutrition, and veterinary treatment. Cattlemen become certified and undergo continuous training to remain certified.
“BQA incorporates current Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations, as well as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. Today, BQA influences more than ninety percent of U.S. cattle.
“Not only is proper care and handling something we practice, it is also regulated by state and federal laws. As such, we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that state and federal agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have all of the resources they need for inspection of regulated facilities that handle livestock. In addition, we think it is crucial for local, state, and federal governments to prosecute those who willingly mistreat their animals and break these laws.
“Years of practical experience have shaped the practices that my family, and ranching families across the country, use to provide humane care of our livestock. It is not just something we talk about, it is something we do everyday.”
Ramsey’s full testimony is available online at www.beefusa.org. Ramsey photo available upon request.