Dear Subway, I really wish you would have talked to a farmer.

*Please note due to the overwhelming response, I am unable to respond to every comment individually. I am however, reading them, processing & learning. Thank you!

Dear Subway,

I really wish you would have talked to a farmer.

I really wish you would have done so before your big announcement saying you would, as of 2016, be sourcing all of your turkey and chicken as being raised without antibiotics.

I really, really, wish you would have visited those farms that supply your turkey, chicken, and as you stated, eventually your pork and beef that will be sourced as antibiotic free as well.

Here’s the deal. I like your food, I really do. Your chopped salads and chicken bacon ranch sub are my favorites. I layer my sub with veggies like cucumbers, spinach, and onion. However, your marketing ploy makes me sigh, as I guess I need to check off another restaurant that I can no longer eat at.

ALL meat that hits the market for consumption is and continues to be antibiotic free. See, meat is tested for antibiotics, and livestock given antibiotics have to follow strict withdrawal periods before they can be sold for meat. Farmers have to keep accurate records about what antibiotic was given, when it was given and to what animal. Animals that are sick are often housed in a sick bay or removed from other livestock to help stop the spread of a disease. Sometimes, it involves treating more than one animal to prevent the disease from spreading. Animals are treated based upon a veterinarian’s recommendation for the best course of action, and farmers follow that plan of care to ensure that animal is healthy.

Minnesota is the number one producer of turkeys. I have many turkey farming friends. I see how their birds are raised and cared for, and have been in their barns. Have you? Have you asked a farmer what it is like to treat a sick animal or let it suffer? Have you asked them why antibiotics are an important tool in their toolbox on their farm? Yes, birds are raised indoors in Minnesota. Wouldn’t you want to be indoors during -35 degree weather?

I have seen a calf come down with pneumonia, just like I did during my sophomore year of high school. I watched my Dad call the vet out. I went to my doctor. The vet prescribed an antibiotic and instructed my dad on how to administer the correct dosage of antibiotic to save the calf. My doctor gave me a prescription for 2 antibiotics and cough syrup with the correct dosage and directions for how to administer the antibiotic to myself so I wouldn’t get sicker. The antibiotics worked for the both of us. That calf went on to lead a perfectly healthy life, never needing an antibiotic again, and became hamburger on one of our customer’s plates. Would it have been better to just let the calf die? Is that calf not worthy of treatment just as I am?

Why are you afraid to have the conversation with farmers, to learn about what they do instead of forcing them to change the entire industry and their practices? Have farmers asked you to change how you do business? Farmers’ frustrations keep mounting as more and more companies are asking them to do something without rhyme or reason, explanation, or understanding. Farmers don’t do anything “just because,” there is research, time, dollars, education, sweat, blood, and tears involved in every decision made. Please Subway, won’t you just take the time to ask? To look? To understand the decisions from housing, to feed, to what breeds to raise, to who to hire, to what bedding gets used, to why an antibiotic may be necessary… before you make another announcement? An announcement, that I will fully admit, you are going to find very difficult to actually come through on.

I understand some things have happened that have tarnished your reputation over the past year, but hurting the family farmer will only add to that issue, not help. I vote bringing back shredded carrot as an option and that will go a long ways, and having a conversation with the farmer who works tirelessly to raise the product you need to sell those delicious sandwiches.


A farmer

Subway footlong

Top 5 Things Subway Customers Need to Know

Subway Announces That A Bullet Is Their Treatment of Choice for Sick Animals

Disappointed in Subway; Caving Into Fear

Subway Eat Fresh – Stay Politically Correct
Subway Removing Antibiotics and Facebook Comments

There Are No Antibiotics in Your Meat, Now Stop.

Ruffled Feathers over Subway

Food Dialogues- Antibiotics and Livestock

Fact or Fiction – Common Antibiotic Myths

Note: As of 10/23, Subway has updated their antibiotic free policy to now read:

That said, we recognize that antibiotics are critical tools for keeping animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve their effectiveness in veterinary and human medicine. Our policy is that antibiotics can be used to treat, control and prevent disease, but not for growth promotion of farm animals. Accordingly, we are asking our suppliers to do the following:

  • Adopt, implement and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) guidance for industry 209 and 213, which requires that medically important antibiotics not be used for growth promotion. Visit the FDA site to learn more.
  • Assure that all antibiotics use is overseen, pre-approved and authorized by a licensed veterinarian before they are administered to any animal.
  • Keep accurate and complete records to track use of all antibiotics.
  • Adhere at all times to all legal requirements governing antibiotic withdrawal times. This assures that antibiotics have been eliminated from the animals’ systems at the time of slaughter.
  • Actively encourage, support and participate in research efforts focused on improving animal health while reducing antibiotics use.


    1. Lets face it, the majority of the American people are just plain stupid when it comes to the way food is raised. They all want organic or hormone free say it causes cancer but if the American farmer used these practices no one would get cancer because we all would starve to death.

      1. Here we go again… Let people make up there own minds about what they want to eat. Nobody is going to starve to death. If they want organic… Fine. Quit making a big deal of it. Everyone is able to make that decision for them selves. You’re your own worst enemy calling people stupid. I question as to how educated you are on this subject… 😕

      2. Not once did I ever call anyone stupid in this post so I’m not sure where you are getting that from.

        This post isn’t about food choice although that is what you have chosen to comment on. It is about animal welfare and a marketing ploy.

    1. With the livestock we have, we only treat them when they are sick, under the care of our vet. For instance, our beef steer had pneumonia earlier this spring. We had the vet out and the vet prescribed antibiotics. That is the only time he has ever had antibiotics in his system.

  1. Dear farmer Sara,

    I currently am going to school right now to be a dietitian. That being said, I am 100% behind you as it pertains to your argument against antibiotic treated meat. However, in high school, happened to date a farmer who helped raise turkeys who I remember distinctly saying that the meat was sold off to Subway. This was back in 2013. That is where I question the validity of this argument. Is it possible that maybe some was antibiotic treated meat and some not, and now it will be mandatory that it ALL be farm raised? I really enjoyed your article. Could you possibly list your original source of where you got your information? I would love to read into it more out of my own curiosity.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Breanna,
      I’m a little confused with what you are asking here. All animals are farm raised. It is very possible that some livestock have never been treated with an antibiotic ever, you are correct. Many of the cattle we had while I was growing up were never treated with an antibiotic, in fact, I’d say probably 95% of them were not. If you are looking for more sources on how antibiotics are used on farms here are a few:

      1. No, not all cattle are raised on a farm. A lot of cattle are raised in nasty dirty feed lots. Chickens are raised standing in a cage all their lives. And, these animals are given antibiotics and hormones. You can only speak of what you know on your farm/ranch. If you have never seen a feed lot, might be a good field trip for you. Good article but not all cattle and chicken are the same or raised the same. Wish I could live on your farm/ranch where life is good and fair.

      2. The farm I grew up on WAS classified as a feedlot Kaye. And I have toured plenty of large farming operations from dairy to cattle to hogs and chickens. That being said, our definitions of a farm obviously differ so we can agree to disagree.

      3. The beef you see on the feedlot was not born or grown there. They are rounded up out of grass pasture, where they ate grass, and taken to the lots at market weight. This serves a dual purpose. It brings a lot of animals together from many ranchers which helps keep trucking costs down. Additionally, the beef is fed a grain, usually corn to help give the beef the taste that Americans have become accustomed to. All though all beef is grass fed during the growth period, animals slaughtered without being “fed out” have a gamier flavor that many find unpalatable. The plight that animals in the food chains endure is simply due to the beef industry catering to the consumer and the consumers demand for a plentiful, tasty, CHEAP meat supply. I raise a heritage breed of pasture kept pork and have developed a good market for it. But there is NO WAY to keep up with demand without using commercial practices. Farmers and ranchers need to support the many types of operations out there instead of cowering to the ever changing whims of underinformed, loudly squacking trend followers. I don’t give my family antibiotics if they are not sick. But I also can’t see letting an animal die to please a consumer that had no idea what it’s talking about.

  2. I say Bravo to subway for doing this! We are organic farmers and there are other ways to treat illness. It’s because there is a market demand for this and more people are concerned about their food.

    1. I’m not condemning organic agriculture. In fact, there are lots of agricultural and animal husbandry practices that are used across the board in both organic and conventional agriculture. Using antibiotics is not a go-to, but rather a tool in the tool box.

    2. Just curious, what organic ways do you treat a bacterial illness without antibiotics? And how do you go about reaching a diagnosis before your treatment?

    3. Please share with me, organic farmer, exactly what those other ways to treat illness are. The organic farmers I know, just like a conventional farmers, first try other things to take care of an animal such as providing a good diet and clean environment. When that fails, organic farmers in my area treat an animal with antibiotics, keep careful records of it, then after the withdrawal period has passed they sell the treated animal to a different farmer or move it to another herd within their own operation. Organic animals still get treated with antibiotics, but by carefully shifting ownership, it no longer looks as if they did. Please share if your experience is different.

      1. Organic farmers rely on prevention first. We have much fewer vet visits after becoming organic because we keep our operation cleaner, more sanitary, give the animals a more wholesome diet, and are not pumping them with drugs to plump them up or increase our production. If animals do become sick, we use a combination of tincutres, homeopathy, essential oils, botanicals and vitamins to treat illnesses before turning to antibiotics as a last resort. However, you are correct- once an animal has been given an antibiotic, it’s no longer considered organic, so we sell it to a conventional farmer. Antibiotics are a last resort, but no- organic produce someone purchases in a store will not have been treated with antibiotics.

      2. Although I appreciate your comment, saying that you keep a facility cleaner, sanitary or a more wholesome diet than conventional is opinion, and not factual from many of the non-organic farms I have seen. There’s room for all – practices are just different, not necessarily better.

  3. I don’t like taking drugs, whether they are from my doctor or from my food. If slaughtered animals are tested positive for antibiotics or growth hormones….or any other chemical that is detrimental to the health of my family, I won’t purchase it.

    1. I don’t like taking any antibiotics either, but I do when my doctor says they are necessary. Antibiotics helped save my life and my unborn child’s this past year. That being said, no meat with antibiotics enters the food chain. However, there are plenty of organic options of eating meat that has never been treated with antibiotics in its lifecycle if it is important to you as well.

      1. Plus…there is no “antibiotics” in the meat you eat…..that may have been treated with antibiotics…..

    2. Jerry, meat that tests positive for antibiotics NEVER enters our food supply, period. It doesn’t matter if you pay more for products labeled organic, grass-fed, antibiotic free, etc. You will never purchase meat with antibiotics in it from your local grocer. The USDA is quite strict with testing food before it ever makes it to consumers.

  4. Subway just had a class action law suit. Which claims their sandwiches were not even 12-6 inches in length.
    I do like a subway once in awhile. I prefer to make my own…with fresh deli meat and my own veggies from my garden

  5. Very well said. I live in Indiana and grew up on a farm. My kids show livestock at the county fair and every year they have to take a class on feeding their hogs and they have to be certified. It is very clear that if a hog gets sick there are timetables for when antibiotics must be removed prior to the fair and sale of the animal. My children sign affidavits to this and can be held legally responsible if medications are found in their system at the packing plant.

    Sorry Subway, we won’t be having our weekly subs anymore!

  6. I’ve taken antibiotics when I’ve been sick my whole life. I’m alive and as healthy as ever. So I applaud this farmer for taking what actions necessary to feed us. New age ideas cause more problems than they fix. Don’t be a follower of something blown out of proportion. Generations before us lived just fine. Quit trying to fix what’s not broken. Good job farmer.

  7. Nonsense.

    Quite an emotional letter, but quite deceptive. A sleight of hand actually. The problem with antibiotics isn’t that they’re in the meat when you buy it, but that we use low dose antibiotics to keep animals from getting sick in large farming operations. This challenges their microbiome and forces the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (bacteria in the gut and on the skin get continually challenged with these antibiotics, most die, but the ones who survive are antibiotic resistant and then pass on the resistance to regular wild type bacteria). I expect that people who work on these farms, live near these farms, live on these farm, transport for these farms, are probably all colonized with super bugs. About 80% of our antibiotic consumption in the USA is in agribusiness and we are currently in a medical crisis of super bugs like Vancomycin-resistant enterobacter, Carbapenem-resistant enterobacter, etc.

    1. Paula, I grew up on a “large” farm with “lots” of livestock and we never used antibiotics in a low dose in the feed ever. We once had to administer an antibiotic to our entire hog herd to save their lives due to a rapidly spreading disease. That was not fun, for us, the pigs, our pocketbook, etc. but it was the only option we had. As far as antibiotic resistance, I encourage you to read this post and view this graphic to understand what percentages of antibiotics are used in livestock. A cow dose of tetracycline will be much larger than what a teenager taking it to clear up acne might be. Did you know only 1% of the population actually has MRSA colonized on them as you talk about super bugs? I worked in a hospital for 6 years, and I grew up on a farm and actually am healthier than most who did not. Proper hand washing goes a long ways Paula!

      1. I am glad your farm did not, but it doesn’t change the data when it comes to antibiotic consumption statistics in the USA. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Antibiotics are widely used in food-producing animals. This use contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food-producing animals. These resistant bacteria can contaminate the foods that come from those animals, and persons who consume these foods can develop antibiotic-resistant infections.”

        Less rigorous source than the CDC admittedly, but “Most U.S. Antibiotics Go to Animal Agriculture

        I am happy to see end use consumers making the decision not to go with antibiotic-using producers. Maybe we’ll see more judicious use of antibiotics. It is a matter of life and death.

      2. Hi, I can say that your statistic if 1%of people are colonized with MRSA is faulty. Working in health care that number alone is closer to 10%. As it is “colonized” no one would ever know that would test positive. I would even go sonar as to say more than 1% of people are actively suffering from MRSA in the form of wounds alone.

  8. They aren’t talking about the treatment of illness here… They are talking about the sub-therapeutic dosing of antibiotics to push weight gain in the animals. There have been several medications pulled for use in poultry because if this practice, especially when it risks human health. Baytril was a semi-recent one. Baytril is essentially the same drug as Cipro which is used in humans. When Baytril hit the market it was labeled for use in the drinking water of poultry. Farmers were using it as a “preventative” for respiratory issues. What began to emerge was bacteria resistant to baytril and cipro. Since cipro is one of our last remaining “big guns” it was quickly pulled for use in poultry as it could have dire effects on human health. Tetracycline is another one… If you ever keep a backyard flock of poultry you will find out at some point that tetracycline is all but useless in treating poultry ailments today. That is almost entirely the fault of the commercial industry. The withdrawal periods are not always to completely rid their systems of antibiotics but to bring them to a “safe” level. There could still be residue in the muscle and fat which over time could lead to a resistance in human pathogens as those residues are consumed over time in small doses. Similar to someone building resistance to anthrax(used to be a common military practice) by ingesting small quantities over a span of time.

    1. Subway IS talking about all antibiotics – therapeutic and otherwise. They are putting out a “zero tolerance” policy on antibiotics. So yes, they are talking about treating illnesses with antibiotics. As far as withdrawal periods, I encourage you to check out these sources and as well as those already linked at the end of the blog. Baytril has been prohibited in the use of poultry since 2005, so that is already 10 years ago. I have kept a “backyard” flock of chickens. My free-rangers never received antibiotics, however I lost many of them to various issues – more than likely illnesses I could have treated with antibiotics. I would also encourage you to check out this link for your case on tetracycline The issues with antibiotic resistance are in large part due to human error and our insistence that we treat all of our sniffles with an antibiotic. Doctors are finally now becoming more stringent about this, however I still know people who all they have to do is call in when they start to get a head cold and they are prescribed an antibiotic.

  9. Great to see the truth being spoken…..I just wish false advertising about this subject could be prosecuted….it is very damaging to the animals….and jobs….and expenses….and cost to consumers….it is all going to hurt the poor in the long run…..but those who are all about the foo foo food don’t care ….they only care about themselves…..or they do not look into the subject for truth before demanding “no antibiotics”….I trust growers more than “food babes”…. and truth be known….this all started with a blogger who has no education in…or experience in….the subject….I will refrain from giving her blog because she spews untruth……
    Keep pressing on …..
    Farmers Rock!!

  10. So I’m a little confused with the reference you made about when you got Pneumonia and you went to the doctor for antibiotics, because we Dont eat humans. So the end result is different. And just because subway doesn’t want a turkey with antibiotics doesn’t mean you have to kill the animal, it just means its life is meant for a different purpose. There has been so much information about medicine and antibiotics and preservatives leading to cancers that for once we shouldn’t bash on a widely known business trying to better the health of everyone who eats there.

    1. You are correct that we don’t eat humans, but just like humans need antibiotics to get over certain bacterial infections, so do the animals we raise for food. But, just because an animal has received antibiotics doesn’t mean they are now permanently in that animal. That is why veterinarians inform farmers of the withdrawal period of any medication we use in food animals.

      And if you want to talk about the company being health conscious, when are they going to stop using nitrites and nitrates as a preservative?

  11. I really appreciate the effort your blog is doing for this subject. A lot of good information and sites for people to check. I am a life long dairy farmer and we do not do things the same way we did them ten, twenty years ago. There is more technology and testing and know how that are used in farming these days. Just like there has been such improvements in the medical fields and everywhere else. Keep up the good work and Thank You!!!

  12. the problem isn’t when animals are given antibiotics when they ARE sick. The problem is when farmers just put antibiotics into feed when the animals AREN’T sick just to make the animals able to live in bad conditions. doesn’t mean subway is against antibiotics, it just means they are trying to promote ethical farming practices over supporting a system that may pump their animals with drugs.

    1. I recommend you watch this video for more information about how antibiotics are used. Therapeutic uses of antibiotics that are directly tied to human health are on a complete phase out by December 2016, that of which all pharmaceutical companies have already switched all of the approved uses of their antibiotics well ahead of that date. You can read more about that here Subway is saying they can’t be raised with any antibiotics – treatment for when animals are sick if necessary, so yes Subway is saying they are against that.

      1. I’m really confused because I think that you and Subway are basically promoting the same thing. Subway is against the therapeutic (continuous low-grade) use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes. They are NOT against administering antibiotics as long as they are approved by a vet, they are keeping accurate records and they follow the correct withdrawal times. You put the exact quote at the end of your article. So what’s the problem? It sounds like you already do this on your farm, and that’s great. And what’s more, the FDA is mandating that these low-grade antibiotic practices are phased out by the end of 2016 anyway, so in a year’s time this will be a non-issue. The guidances that you linked above state that they will “phase out growth promotion uses for medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.” MEANING….they are phasing out the low-grade therapeutic use of antibiotics which cause resistances and other issues and will only allow MEDICALLY NECESSARY antibiotics, which is the exact same thing you were promoting in your article. You have blown this up into something that is not true by saying Subway doesn’t allow ANY antibiotics. I think Subway is simply using this FDA plug to gain an advertising boost in the “natural food” sector.
        I’m sick of farmers acting like the victim every time people demand to know how their food is raised. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against farming in any way…my husband and I farm in MN (beef, dairy, corn, soybeans, hay, backyard chickens, garden produce, you name it!) But our society wants to ask questions and they expect quality and that is okay. You and Subway are on the same team!! We are all on the same team.

  13. I guess in future advertising, subway can throw up two hands and flash it as they 5 times $5 footlong sub. As once they implement these impossible ideals, a footlong will be $25…I understand subway is slipping as a company but alienating part of your consumer base while also implementing practices that will explode your consumer cost doesn’t seem like a good way to regain your fast food footing, then again maybe they lost so much with their famous spokesman that they won’t be here in 2016 anyways.

  14. Truth of the matter is people who were not raised on ,work on ,or live on a farm just don’t get it . They have no idea of where their food comes from or what it takes to provide it. They will never understand the time , money and the work that farmers put into their farms to produce food for people. Keep up the good work. And thank God for the American farmer!!

  15. A struggling (and crooked) farmer in my hometown once bought 5,000 head of Turkey. They were all vaccinated. Because he was crooked and struggling, he waited the withdrawal period and resold them as “Organic” so he could turn a profit, and because the antibiotics were out of the bird’s system there was no way to prove what he did. I in no way condemn vaccinations. We vaccinate our cattle when necessary. But just because somethin is labeled “Organic” doesn’t mean it is.

    1. vaccinations and antibiotics are 2 different things. Vaccinations are actually allowed in organic agriculture. Organic farmers have to keep a ton of paperwork and do their due diligence for their annual review otherwise it is bad news bears if they get caught. I’m not condemning organic agriculture with the post, just asking Subway to take a closer look at why farmers choose to use antibiotics.

  16. Can you talk a little bit about the operation(s) you reference as 1. Being a part of now, and 2. Having grown up on? Were these calf-cow operations? Were/are y’all running a feedlot? I assume if you are selling to subway that you aren’t doing grassfed.

    I have found in these conversations there is a whole lot of misunderstanding drummed up by people not knowing that there are often at least 2 (or usually more) distinct enterprises/locations involved in getting a calf from birth to burger. People need to understand the industry before having the still necessary critical conversations.

    1. I grew up on what is classified as a “feed lot” We raised around 6000 pigs every year and then had anywhere from 150-200 cattle. We sold our pigs through contract with Hormel at the time, and our cattle were sold to a meat processing facility.

  17. After being in the ag industry for many years, I would see these issue arise at our front counter many times. The farming community struggles as it there isn’t enough advocates and wealth to let the truth be told. We had similar issues in our industry. We just weren’t big enough and the “Subway’s” of the world made great strides of not informing the public of the “real story”. It cost our business alot of wasted time and dollars. Kudos to you and taking your stand!

  18. I don’t think Subway is referring to antibiotics to treat sick animals, particularly poultry and other small, low value per unit animals that aren’t worth enough or around long enough to justify calling a vet when they get sick. The abuse of antibiotics in conventional farming is their use in the feed to increase appetite for rapid weight gain, which is transferred to the consumer. This practice is dangerous and if Subway or any other food producer bans, I’m happy about it. BTW, I raise grass fed, certified naturally grown beef cattle in Vermont with 250 head. I do agree that using antibiotics to treat illness, under the proper protocol is valuable, but again, that’s really not the issue. I a brood cow is sick/injured then treatment is good practice because you’re not eatting these animals for years anyway, and if an animal is a feeder and needs treatment, it’s simple to mark the animal and sell it in a conventional market. I do it all the time, and it’s not much trouble.

  19. First off, let start by saying “way to go SubWay”! I live in Iowa (the heart of Agriculture) and know many people that so called farmers. My grandfather farmed his entire life, raised corn, soybeans, pork, cattle, and produced milk, and did so without the wide spread use of antibiotics and GMO crops. I see you like to flash your data card to justify your position on why it is safe to produce food “your way”. Here is the bottom line, the producer (not a farmer) has to figure out how can I cram as many head into a confinement building or open feed lot as possible. Believe me I have seen how you so called farmers do this. Hog confinement owners are rewarded financially for over crowding their buildings, and cattle in over crowded feed lots walk around belly high in their own feces. NOT possible unless you have a continual flow of antibiotics to help them from getting sick (research also shows antibiotics help the animal grow faster). Your position is unbalanced, you hide behind the cloque that your food is “safe” when in reality you are upset because you don’t know any different and your current life style is under fire. Farmers on the other hand can raise food with out unsafe cancer causing ways. How you ask, by doing just that farming. Understanding a balanced way to raise food.

    1. Jason, I am truly sorry if you feel that way and believe that. I am not saying that food has to be produced what you have referred to as “my way.” I simply asked Subway to talk to farmers to understand why they use antibiotics and why it is an important piece of the big picture of animal welfare and health. No, the farmer is not rewarded for over crowding barns, and hog farmers are definitely not rewarded for that. I know many hog farmers and if their hog has so much as a scratch on it it can be turned away with their contract. My position is just that – my opinion for a better conversation to happen between Subway and farmers. Again, I’m truly sorry you believe this.

  20. Thank you so much for this article and all of the comments below it! I am a beef cattle farmer who is fairly new to farming, and I have seen far too many heated and propaganda-filled arguments from ALL sides of the antibiotics debate. Hearing educated, level headed and respectful people discuss their points of view is refreshing.
    I live in an incredibly small cow-calf operation with <20 head of cattle. Our cows eat almost nothing but grass and hay with the exception of a few grain feedings to help us get them through the winter. While I wish that every cow could live like ours do, I have to point out that the amount of cattle we supply from our farm is not enough for us to be able to afford farming full-time. Every person in my house has a full-time job, making it often difficult to keep up with farm work. So I definitely respect full-time farmers, because it takes a lot of work to live off of the profits of a farm. We also need full time farmers in order to live lives that don't include farming but still have groceries in the grocery store for us.
    I agree that feeding animals a small but constant dose of antibiotics is not the best practice. I believe that antibiotics are for sick animals only, and I believe that most people would agree with this. However, the language used in the media often reflects on all farmers as greedy people who are 'pumping their animals full of antibiotics' when not all farmers do this. Most of the cows and chickens on our farm have never seen an antibiotic in their lives, and never will.
    I would love to see and end to this 'consumer vs farmer' mentality and be able to open up respectful and honest conversation like I see here. Consumers have a right to know about where their food comes from, but they also have a responsibility to understand what it is like to feed our country. It's not always easy, but someone must do it. Most farmers farm because they love it, not because of the money.

  21. Just as an FYI – Antibiotics ARE a tool in the organic farmer’s toolbox (and I would hope farms supporting businesses such as Subway – they are NOT saying they won’t treat sick animals appropriately but rather those treated animals won’t go into Subway meals). As an organic farmer, our first tenant is to do no harm to the animal. After they are treated with antibiotics if necessary and the appropriate time has passed (withholding) we sell the animal for “conventional” milk or meat. That’s great that your operation doesn’t use antibiotics prophylactically but MANY do, especially in the chicken/turkey industry. They are trying to phase it out but look at some of the MANY testimonials of conventional chicken farmers and its revolting with or without antibiotics. While organic isn’t perfect, there are better regulations, another set of inspections and a more sustainable model. People should choose what works for them but the superbug issue is real and growth hormones (used on MANY conventional operations) are bad. Are they in the meat? Maybe not but it’s been proven to increase the incidence of foot problems and mastitis in dairy cows (can be up to 70 something percent) which reduces the life of the animal. That’s great that your operation respects the withholding period for antibiotics but I personally know of LOTS of farmers that don’t and DEFINITELY get away with it. The FDA is not our protector. Even if they wanted to (which I’m not convinced of) they could not possibly test every piece of meat that goes into our food system. Again. It’s a personal choice and not all conventional is bad. Not all organic is great but it is a better choice for us.

    1. I know organic farmers who have ethically chosen never to administer antibiotics – regardless. The greater issue here is if all is transitioned to organic, then there is no longer a market for animals that may need an antibiotic. I’m not saying that organic farmers don’t care for their livestock, I know they do. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being an organic farmer. I buy organic products. I’m simply asking for Subway to take a second look at their statement, talk to their farmers, and learn more about antibiotics. I fully realize their quality control team probably never sees a CEO or Director of Marketing to discuss these things. They get a report and they are done with it. I am also fully aware of how meat testing works and to say “lots” get away with it is a pretty big generalization. If one from sampling gets tested positive, the entire load is rejected at the farmer’s expense. It doesn’t pay to take the chance. I encourage you to read more about the removal of therapeutic uses of antibiotics that are part of the human antibiotic chain that will be in full effect as of December 2016.

  22. As an agriculturalist and having been raised on a farm and ranch myself, I am very appreciative of this article and your expanse of knowledge on the subject. My mother is a veterinarian, so I’ve been surrounded by antibiotics and proper medical procedures all my life. To see how uneducated some arguments are, is quite saddening, to tell you the truth. Thank you for working to educate the public on the importance of, the validity of, and the safety of antibiotic use in production agriculture. We all appreciate your efforts and stand behind your argument.

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