NCBA Educates Capitol Hill on Antibiotic Use in Livestock

June 25, 2013

2 Min Read
NCBA Educates Capitol Hill on Antibiotic Use in Livestock

WASHINGTONOn June 24, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) presented  an overview of the myths and facts behind antibiotic use in livestock to more than 70 congressional staff members as part of NCBAs Beef 101 educational series, a program developed to continually educate those on Capitol Hill on issues important to the beef industry.

Mike Apley, DVM, Ph.D., clinical pharmacologist with Kansas State University, explained that "the goal of producers is to manage cattle to avoid infectious diseases." It is a critical tool to keeping a healthy herd and preventing the spread of diseases. Veterinarians, farmers and ranchers need to have access to effective antibiotics to maintain animal health.

During the presentation, common myths were covered such as the misconception that 70% of antibiotics used in the United States for human and animal uses are used for nontherapeutic use in food animals as well as antibiotic use in animals is not subject to significant government regulations.

Apley said antibiotics that have never been marketed in the United States have been calculated into the percentage, and that all antibiotics labeled for use in livestock production have passed rigorous U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process and have been shown to be safe and effective.

Producers use antibiotics under the guidance of a veterinarian, and extensive regulations govern the use of animal health drugs. Many factors go into ensuring that veterinarians, farmers and ranchers have access to effective antibiotics to maintain animal health, Apley said. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and outright misrepresentations about why and how antibiotics are used in the cattle industry. The truth is, cattle producers and veterinarians utilize many tools including vaccines, herd health management, genetics and animal nutrition to continue producing the worlds safest beef.

In March 2012, a federal judge ordered FDA to begin withdrawing approval for some antibiotics used on livestock until drug makers can prove the drugs are not contributing to drug-resistant bacteria and whether they are safe for human consumption. The ruling comes days before the FDA was scheduled to issue voluntary industry guidelines for antibiotic use in animals.

The decision stems from a lawsuit filed last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

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