Livestock farmers reduce antibiotics sales 41% since 2015

Livestock farmers continue to do their part, and then some, when it comes to dealing with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A combination of antibiotics stewardship strategies and the implementation of the federal veterinary feed directive led to a significant reduction in antibiotics use in recent years.

Since 2015, the sale of antibiotics used for livestock declined 41%, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) reported this week.

NPPC highlighted the issue in response to a segment about antibiotics that aired on “60 Minutes” Jan. 5 which “failed to include critical information about modern pork production,” according to the council.

Liz Wagstrom, NPPC chief veterinarian, participated in an 80-minute interview for the program. But the final story that aired this month included less than two minutes of Wagstrom’s comments.

“U.S. pork producers have been committed to responsible antibiotic use for decades,” NPPC noted. “They supported regulations adopted three years ago requiring veterinary oversight and limiting the use of antibiotics for human medicine.”

Along with strict government regulations, which eliminated the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock, pork producers also adhere to stringent production standards defined by the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus Program.

“The PQA Plus certification program includes on-farm assessments to evaluate how antibiotics are used,” NPPC noted. “We stand by the safety, affordability and nutritional value of U.S. pork as second to none in the world.”

The cattle industry also implemented an animal care program back in the 1980s via the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program.

In fact, the Illinois Beef Association (IBA) hosted its latest round of BQA certification meetings around the state last month.

“The program has evolved over the years (to include a stronger focus on consumers and the transportation sector),” Buzz Iliff, IBA president, recently told FarmWeek. “It encapsulates everything from the time (animals) are born to market. If you take care of your animals, they’ll take care of you.”

Iliff, a veterinarian with Wyoming Veterinary Service, takes part in the veterinary feed directive and maintains substantial records for antibiotics used on farms as required by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We do everything we can to keep animals healthy,” he said. “With vaccines, we’ve been able to cut down on antibiotics use. But, if an animal gets sick, we have to treat them (to maintain humane standards).”