When Tennessee Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon speaks at a congressional briefing on July 24 about the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock production, he’ll be speaking from experience.
Witherspoon, 31, raises grass-fed White Park cattle on a 500-acre farm in Owensville, Mo., just 80 miles outside of St. Louis. Witherspoon will be asking members of Congress in Washington, D.C., for their support of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would phase out the use of antibiotics on healthy animals, while permitting use on sick animals.
“As a pro football player, I am only too aware of the connection between the food I eat and my health,” Witherspoon said in a release from Animal Welfare Approved. “As a father, nothing is more important than protecting the future health and well-being of my children. And as a farmer, I know that you don't need to rely on routine antibiotics if you raise your animals appropriately. Modern agriculture subjects animals to overcrowding and stress; putting the welfare of the animal foremost removes the requirement for routine doses of antibiotics.”
According to AWA, Witherspoon uses “high-welfare, sustainable” farming techniques that replace the need for antibiotics. Witherspoon, entering his 12th year in the NFL, said 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used livestock industry.
“This encourages bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics-the same antibiotics we use to treat ourselves,” he said. “Some dangerous bacteria are now resistant to multiple antibiotics. When we get infected, there are fewer and fewer options for treatment. And we are fast running out of options altogether.”