It is hard to believe
that it is sweater, soup, and fall work time. It also means that in just three
short months, we will ring in a new year and some new rules.
As a beef producer, and
a consumer myself, I understand the questions and concerns of others about the
role of antibiotics in livestock operations and the confusing debate about
antibiotic resistance in human health. Today, I am going to take a look at the
new protocols for producers and what they mean for producers and consumers.
Since the 1940's
antibiotics have been prescribed for people and are among the most commonly
prescribed drugs. Research has never established a direct link between the use
of antibiotics used in raising food animals and antibiotic resistance, but producers
and veterinarians are listening to the consumers. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the support
of the livestock industry, are tightening restrictions on antibiotic use in
By January 1, 2017, antibiotics
that are important to human health will only be available under a Veterinary
Feed Directive (VFD), a prescription from a veterinarian. Under this new rule, a veterinarian must
fill out paperwork, or an electronic form, indicating which antibiotic is to be
used, the amount of time it will be used, and when the prescription will
expire. Veterinarians, producers, feed mills, and feed stores will be required
to keep the paperwork for two years and maybe asked for a copy upon a VFD inspection.
A VFD is a written
(nonverbal) statement issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of the
veterinarian’s professional practice that authorizes the use of a VFD drug or
combination VFD drug in or on an animal feed. This written statement authorizes
the client (the owner of the animal or animals or other caretaker) to obtain
and use animal feed bearing or containing a VFD drug or combination VFD drug to
treat the client’s animals only in accordance with the conditions for use
approved, conditionally approved, or indexed by the FDA. A VFD is also referred
to as a VFD order..(VFD)
So what does that have
to do with me as a beef producer? For my family and our ranch, the new rule
won't change how we operate. We have always had an excellent relationship with
our local veterinarians. That relationship provides an essential element to our
business, raising healthy livestock and safe food.
My first job as a mom is
to have a safe food for our table, including BEEF. That means I take my job as
a beef producer seriously. Although we’d rather not have an animal fall ill, if
we do have a calf succumb to sickness, we work to bring it back to health before
it goes to the market. Sometimes, that requires treatment with an antibiotic. On
the occasion when we do have to give an antibiotic, we consult with our vet,
read and follow ALL label instructions (including withdrawal periods), and
adhere to the best practices laid out in the Beef Quality Assurance Guidelines.
As for consumers, not
much will change when the new VFD goes into effect. Producers have always
followed the withdrawal period before they can send any animals treated with
antibiotics to the market. And, USDA inspectors test meat to ensure it is free
from any antibiotic residue in accordance with set guidelines before it reaches
our tables. As a consumer myself, I rest assured knowing that we all have a
beef supply that is nutritious and safe.
The role antibiotics
play in providing quality animal care is often overlooked in the ongoing discussion
of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are an important tool for all producers.
Good relationships with our vets, providing adequate nutrition, and following
best animal husbandry practices in addition to the judicious use of antibiotics
help us ensure the health and comfort of all of our animals. Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave it in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Happy Friday!!