Animal production essentially refers to livestock and poultryfarms, whose core responsibilities include maintaining animal health, providing shelter, breeding animals, supplying feed and disposing of animal wastes.
While this industry may be far from the minds of many businesses, it is a substantial component of the U.S. economy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, “Livestock and poultry account for over half of U.S. agricultural cash receipts, often exceeding $100 billion per year.”
Products in this industry include live cattle and calves, poultry and eggs, dairy, live hogs and pigs. According to First Research, a leading provider of industry intelligence for sales teams, the top five business challenges for animal production include:
1.) Risk of Catastrophic Animal Diseases: The risk of infection is always present, and disease can wipe out an entire herd. Farms have increased biosecurity measures (hand sanitizers, sanitary foot baths) to limit the spread of disease.
2.) Manure and Waste: New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules more strictly regulate livestock waste runoff from large farms by requiring all major concentrated feeding operations to obtain government permits.
3.) Food Contamination: Contaminated beef, pork, poultry, eggs and milk result in millions of cases of food-borne illness each year. Although many of these incidences occur off the farm, contamination has led to heightened consumer caution surrounding agriculture.
4.) Consumers Wary of Antibiotics, Hormones: In response to public health concerns, the U.S. livestock industry has lowered the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. Activist groups are pushing for a ban on antibiotic use in U.S. livestock.
5.) Competition from Nonmeat Products: Consumer demand for nonmeat products is rising, although it is still small compared to demand for meat products. Soy-based meat alternatives, once a niche market with a small customer base, have reached more than $660 million in sales, according to Soy foods Association of North America.
While these challenges create obstacles for businesses, the animal production community is backed by various resources to help them best navigate and avoid costly occurances associated with these scenarios.
Westfield provides insurance for all areas of agribusiness, including farms and commercial businesses. Some of the industries we target within animal production include beef, dairy, poultry, hogs and pigs and equine. For more information contact your Westfield Independent Agent.
*Photo courtesy of Dawn Breagel