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Quantifying cattle manure-AMR perceptions and treatment system variabilities to develop a novel communication framework for conveying AMR science and mitigation opportunities


Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) research, outreach and communication involve many stakeholders, including farmers, milk and meat processors, researchers/extension educators, veterinarians, food safety experts, consumers, doctors, and policymakers. While there has been much progress in AMR research since launching the AFRI Food Safety AMR program, there has not been a systematic characterization of perceptions and knowledge of AMR presence in the cattle agroecosystems or the development of appropriate outreach strategies needed to effectively communicate with stakeholders. This research will address this need by systematically quantifying AMR knowledge and perceptions and creating targeted outreach campaigns for farmers, who increasingly interact with the public, as well as policymakers and other stakeholders in order to communicate the nuances of AMR prevalence in dairy and beef cattle production. In addition, through our prior research, thermal-based processes have the potential to be more effective in reducing AMR, but systemic relationships between novel higher-temperature manure treatment methods and AMR reductions have not been conducted. We will conduct this research as well as a statistically rigorous characterization of AMR in manure in order to create a manure sampling protocol suitable for accurate and precise quantification of AMR in the inherently heterogeneous and variable manure matrixes and management systems.The long-term goals of this project are to: 1) provide quantified and research-based communication tools to policy makers, farmers, and other agricultural stakeholders who interact with the public, based upon knowledge of stakeholder perceptions (and misconceptions) of AMR prevalence, conveyance, and reductions in the environment, 2) utilize our sampling protocol for AMR to test three of the most promising thermal-based AMR manure treatment technologies in dairy operations, some of which are already used by farms to meet other farm goals, i.e. rotary drum composters for solids treatment and anaerobic digestion, and 3) create communication strategies that best convey science-based knowledge on cattle-AMR dynamics to stakeholders, enabling them to communicate this dynamic issue and make sustainable decision on its mitigation. The results can be used to inform farmers, policy makers, and other stakeholders, on manure management technologies and how to effectively convey AMR knowledge to consumers.The supporting objectives are: Analyze stakeholder AMR perception, knowledge and decision-making, including reasons for variability in farmer antibiotic use and application.Define matrix variability and create sampling requirements/protocols for manure assessment using practical, emerging high-temperature dairy manure treatment technologies for reducing AMR (rotatory drum composting, thermophilic digestion, and thermal hydrolysis pre-treatment), and model the relationship between temperature and treatment, including in AMR runoff from beef open feedlots.Create an effective communication framework based on research into stakeholder's understanding and needs that includes social media, web and media resources, and eXtension material tailored to important stakeholders in the AMR arena, i.e. farmers, veterinarians, food safety experts, and policy makers, resulting in effective and novel strategies for conveying the complicated issues surrounding AMR to stakeholders.Rising concern with antibiotic resistant bacteria has led to a recent proliferation of regulations from federal agencies as well as state level laws. Meanwhile, industry is taking its own approach toward governing antibiotic use through contract mandates, and various consumer groups have increased pressure for farmers to go "antibiotic free". Farmers are situated within this rapidly changing and complex regulatory landscape, and, collectively, employ a wide variety of antibiotic practices. Due to this rapidly changing situation, there is currently little understanding by researchers concerning how current regulations and best practice guidance affect the kinds of antibiotic practices farmers use. Similarly, non-farming stakeholders, i.e. veterinarians, policy makers, industry representatives, often have little understanding concerning how and why farmers engage in the antibiotic practices that they do. There is therefore a need to: a) understand the variety of antibiotic practices of farmers and the drivers behind their decision making, and b) understand key stakeholder attitudes towards AMR. Understanding the diverse practices, perspectives, and decision points among antibiotic stakeholders can become a foundation for better communication about what constitutes best antibiotic practice under specific circumstances.Previous studies (and our on-going work) have found significant variability and lack of correlation between antibiotics and ARG, and there currently is no standardized approach to sample heterogeneous manure matrices for AMR. These efforts also suggest that thermal treatment systems offer greater potential to mitigate antibiotic residues, ARB, and ARG than traditional manure handling systems, and while some testing has been conducted at bench-scale, farm-relevant, pilot-scaled system of thermophilic composting and anaerobic digestion have not been investigated, with no work done exploring thermal hydrolysis. Thermal hydrolysis prior to digestion has been practiced in Europe and at wastewater treatment plants in the U.S., but this technology and further analyses of thermophilic AD could have large impacts on antibiotic destruction. The relationship between temperature, pressure and AMR needs to be systemically investigated. These promising treatments also offer system to develop improved sampling protocols that account for sampling and technical variability.There is a need for farmers, the public, and policymakers to have accurate information on the impact of farm practices on AMR and how AMR is reduced. The effective delivery of this information requires an understanding of stakeholder perceptions and the assessment of delivery approaches, as well as novel media approaches to delivering this content.

Lansing, Stephanie
University of Iceland
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