“Pathfinders” is what the VMD’s Peter Boriello called the British poultry sector. He was referring to the work we have done on understanding our use of antibiotics, and it’s a term that feels about right.
While we’d love to think it’s purely a reflection of leading the way on a massively important issue, the truth is more prosaic. We’re simply very carefully feeling our way in a subject that yet has few certainties.
The poultry industry has many societal responsibilities, ranging from ethical to fiscal. Antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance run the entire gamut of those responsibilities: the ethical treatment of livestock, provision of wholesome and nutritious food, the UK doing its best to feed itself. Our starting point for all of these is “what can we do to help?”
This is no altruistic fervour, but part of a sustainable approach to food production that has to encompass the cares and concerns of a multi-faceted society. So as pathfinders we took our first steps in trying to create a model that makes business sense as well as exploring our broader commitments.
The result was hugely impressive. Not just for the headline reduction in use by 44%, but in the manner by which all BPC members galvanised themselves to play an active part. This is a subject that people can relate to, and we needed to make our small contribution to this global debate.
We’ll be speaking in more detail about various aspects of our journey so far and our aspirations for the future, but for the moment we’ll take “pathfinders” as confirmation that we’re heading in the right direction.