"Economics of Antibiotic Use in Livestock Production"
Stacy Sneeringer et al, USDA
There is a recent trend towards antibiotic-free meat in the US, as companies as large as Perdue, Hormel, and Foster Farms start to incorporate antibiotic-free production practices. While the health of humans and livestock has always been a driving argument behind the shift, there is now a business rationale as well.
USDA Economic Research Services find no significant economic benefit in using antibiotics for uses other than disease treatment. Overall, eliminating antibiotics resulted in just a 1-3% increase in cost of production, a 1% increase in wholesale prices, and a drop in output of less than 1%. Furthermore, existing antibiotic-free producers “are predicted to respond to these higher prices by increasing production,” increasing revenues and availability of antibiotic-free meats to consumers.
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