The question is not whether the meat industry is the primary cause of antibiotic resistance. It's whether it contributes, and what to do about that. There are certainly other factors (you mentioned hospitals several times) that also contribute. We need to look at those factors as well, absolutely. I never said we shouldn't. But if the meat industry is creating a potential health crisis (which no one knows for sure if it is or not), they're not off the hook just because hospitals are creating a potentially bigger threat. Society has to deal with both problems.
The point would be to reduce antibiotics usage overall, which I'm sure you would agree with. If a European-style ban is not working, and actually makes things worse, then I agree that that's not the solution. Maybe we should be looking at what makes so many animals sick to begin with, instead of whether to ban antibiotics or not.
As an aside, I don't only blame industry for these problems. Industry is simply keeping up with demand. One of the articles I read said that in America alone, *nine billion* animals are raised for slaughter each year. That's a staggering number. Industry isn't doing this for fun - that's just how much meat Americans eat. It means that even if 99% of animals are treated reasonably well, which I doubt is true, an appalling 90 million animals are mistreated every year (plenty of fodder for journalists and activists who are looking for industry abuses). Also, the study you mentioned that said that factory farming scales (environmentally speaking) better than other methods doesn't negate the fact that the meat industry is having a huge negative impact on the environment. It takes enormous amounts of food and energy (and fossil fuels) to raise nine billion animals, and they are going to produce an enormous amount of waste, no matter how they're raised. The problem seems to be that raising (and killing) nine billion animals per year is always going to be messy, inefficient, cruel, and bad for the environment. It's the law of truly large numbers again.
The primary solution is that Americans simply need to drastically reduce meat consumption (on average, we each ate over 250 lbs of cow, chicken, and pig in 2005 - http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=united+states+meat+consumption). Policies regarding antibiotics and so on are just band-aids, and probably mostly useless, as you point out.
It's analogous to a hypothetical increase of gas mileage from 20 to 25 mpg in automobiles. That's great, and a big improvement, but it pales in comparison to the potential efficiency of public transportation, alternative fuels, or even carpooling. One gas guzzler may be better than another gas guzzler, but it's still a gas guzzler with a big, bad footprint.
I want to thank you for your thoughts from "the inside", by the way. I do appreciate hearing the other side of the story, even if I disagree with your assessment.