For much of its history, the U.S. cattle industry has relied on science to answer the tough questions. And science has served us well. Research, education and innovation helped cattlemen develop the most efficient production systems ever known.

Yet experts predict that increases in efficiency of animal production will need to be even greater during the next 40 years to meet increased global demand for animal-based products, according to the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS). If animal agriculture is to meet this challenge, even greater collaboration between academia, industry, government, consumers and others will be essential.

In an effort to stimulate that dialog, ASAS produced “Grand Challenges 2012,” a document that looks at the key questions and expected outcomes of the major challenges facing animal agriculture – animal health, climate change, food safety, global food security and animal well-being.

In summary form, ASAS says the grand challenges facing animal production are:

  • To optimize the health and productivity of animals in a manner that protects and enhances human health.
  • To produce animal proteins in an economically, environmentally and socially acceptable manner that meets the demands of an increasing population.
  • To ensure that animal scientists develop and disseminate strategies for mitigation and adaptation with increasing climate variability.
  • To develop intervention and control strategies for foodborne contaminants along the entire animal production chain and enhance detection of pathogens to ensure a safe food supply and decrease foodborne illness.
  • To optimize animal well-being in a socially acceptable and sustainable manner.

To read the entire Grand Challenges document, with specifics on each of the five areas, click here.