Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Farm Bureau Donations Benefit Hungry Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2016 – The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau raised more than $1.1 million and donated a record of more than 48 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations also reached a record level of the equivalent of more than 49 million meals.

Now in its 14th year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but Farm Bureau members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. In all, 19 state Farm Bureaus and the American Farm Bureau Federation heeded the call to action, helping ensure Americans in need can enjoy the bounty of food farmers and ranchers produce.

In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied nearly 16,000 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2015.

“We’re pleased to continue Farm Bureau’s long tradition of helping nourish those who need help the most,” said Cole Coxbill, a rancher and crop farmer from Wyoming who chairs the AFBF YF&R committee.

“More than 50 percent of Americans that struggle with hunger live in rural areas and farming communities,” Coxbill said. “Through the coordinated efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers and Harvest for All, we’re helping to lower that statistic.”

Harvest for All is one of the most important community service efforts undertaken by Farm Bureau members. Although the U.S. economy is stronger overall compared to several years ago, many Americans still need help securing adequate food for their families.

The California Farm Bureau took top honors for donating the most food in 2015, 17.5 million pounds. Illinois Farm Bureau raised the most money, $998,000. Illinois Farm Bureau also tallied the most volunteer hours, 5,675. Thanks to the generosity of Chevrolet, each of those state organizations received a $1,250 grant to donate to a local food bank of their choice or for another Harvest for All project.

Second-place winners were the Florida Farm Bureau for food donated at 16 million pounds; Michigan Farm Bureau for donated funds at $32,600; and Florida Farm Bureau for volunteer time at 4,975. Each of the second-place winners received a $750 grant from Chevrolet to donate to the local food bank of their choice.

In addition, three state YF&R committees received $500 grants from Chevrolet for “most innovative” programs. Those winners were California, Illinois and North Carolina.

The awards were presented during AFBF’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this month. Since Harvest for All was launched, Farm Bureau families have gathered more than 195 million pounds of food, logged more than 112,900 volunteer hours and raised more than $5.9 million in donations. Combined, the food and money donations are the equivalent of more than 210 million meals.

Consumer coalition calls for In-N-Out Burger to reduce routine antibiotics use in beef

Over 50 groups call on restaurant chain to change beef sourcing policies
OAKLAND, CALIF. – Public interest, environmental, food safety and consumer groups representing millions of consumers today announced a campaign calling on In-N-Out Burger, California's iconic hamburger restaurant chain, to stop selling beef produced with the routine use of antibiotics. These groups, including CALPIRG Education Fund, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, along with author and activist Vani Hari, delivered a letter to the company’s corporate headquarters signed by more than 50 groups urging that the company commit to a strong antibiotics policy. CALPIRG Education Fund staff and volunteers also held public outreach efforts at In-N-Out restaurants and other locations to motivate the company to do its part to help protect the public from antibiotic resistance.
Most meat served by America's chain restaurants comes from animals raised in industrial-scale facilities where they are routinely fed antibiotics to prevent disease that is easily spread in crowded, unsanitary and stressful conditions. This overuse of antibiotics in livestock production contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections that claim at least 23,000 lives each year.  Major restaurant chains can influence their meat suppliers to adopt better practices by committing to purchase meat only from farms that don’t abuse life-saving medicines.
“As a hamburger restaurant known for its high-quality, fresh ingredients, In-N-Out should be a leader on this issue," said Jason Pfeifle, Public Health Advocate with CALPIRG Education Fund. "It's time for the company to set a strong antibiotics policy that will help push the meat industry to do the right thing for public health.”
Consumer advocates and volunteers passed out literature at In-N-Out locations around the state about the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and asked passersby to take a photo posing with signs that read: “I’m an In-N-Out lover, but I’m hungry for beef raised without routine antibiotics,” and other slogans. The photos were posted on Twitter and Instagram with #InNOutSaveABX #InNOutBurgers.
“It’s time for In-N-Out Burger to respond to consumers and fill the void left by the FDA’s failed policies by working with its meat suppliers to improve practices and end the misuse of antibiotics,” said Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth.
Last year McDonald’s announced it would stop selling chicken raised with medically important antibiotics after consumers across the country demanded it. Shortly after the McDonald’s announcement, Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. poultry producer, committed to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in raising their birds. Subway also committed to transition away from all meats raised on antibiotics, starting with chicken. These commitments were major wins for public health and came on the heels of several public mobilization campaigns.
"In-N-Out is a highly regarded chain that many people believe serve better food than other fast food competitors. It's time to live up to their reputation and stop lagging behind companies like Elevation Burger and Shake Shack who have responsibly decided not to serve meet raised with routine antibiotics or growth hormones," said author and activist Vani Hari.
Other groups calling on In-N-Out to make this commitment made the following statements:
"Until strong federal regulations prohibit the routine use of antibiotics and other drugs in animals raised for food, commitments from In-N-Out and other popular restaurants to source more responsibly raised meat can help protect human health, animal welfare, and the environment," said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director with Center for Food Safety.
“The public health crisis of antibiotic resistance warrants immediate action from all sectors," said Laura Rogers, deputy director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health. "While the U.S. government has taken some action, it is not enough. We need companies, like In-N-Out Burger, to harness their purchasing power and demand that the meat they serve is raised with responsible antibiotic use."
Background on antibiotics overuse on industrial farms:
Antibiotic-resistant infections kill 23,000 Americans, and sicken 2 million every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most large industrial farms administer antibiotics on a routine basis to animals that often aren’t sick in an effort to promote growth and prevent disease brought on by unsanitary production practices. In the United States, 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are sold for use on food animals.. That overuse breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria that rapidly multiply and spread off of farms via contaminated meat, direct human to animal contact, and through the air, water and soil.
California recently passed landmark legislation that prohibits the routine use of antibiotics on animals for growth promotion or disease prevention. This first-in-the-nation law must be implemented by January 2018. Strong antibiotics commitments from California-based restaurant chains will help move livestock producers to comply with the new law more quickly.