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Agricultural News

Animal Health Companies Respond Positively to FDA Guidances on Antibiotic Use

Mon, 06 Jan 2014 17:04:00 CST

Animal Health Companies Respond Positively to FDA Guidances on Antibiotic Use

The Food and Drug Administration today released a pair of guidances on the use of medically-important antibiotics in farm animals. Both have been in the works for more than a year and seek to slow the spread of microbial resistance to antibiotics used to treat humans. The guidance are voluntary, but the FDA has said it would make them mandatory if the livestock and poultry industries failed to conform. For the most part, animal drug companies support the policies and pledged they would undertake an open and collaborative approach with the FDA to implement them.

Kay Johnson Smith is the president and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. She spoke recently with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about this issue and some state-level proposals that might affect livestock producers. She says animal health companies are responding positively to the FDA guidances. (You can listen to the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)

"The animal health companies as well as the producer community has been very engaged in the process so they've been very active in talking with the FDA, USDA, and they have been supportive. They understand that they don't want to create any further concerns about the public health issues or antibiotic resistance. And this is a way to sort of show the confidence and the commitment the industry has to protecting public health."

She says the use of antibiotics in livestock is a very emotional issue for a lot of people who don't think they should be used at all.

"I think the public really needs to understand that it would be animal cruelty if we did not treat animals to protect their health. It would be inhumane of the industry to not use antibiotics. What really is a big concern from a public perception standpoint is that companies are saying products are 'antibiotic free.' Well, all food products are antibiotic free and that's because we have so many layers of measures in place that really are meant to guard public health and ensure the safety of the food. So, when you read a food product that says 'antibiotic free,' know that the products that don't have that on there are also antibiotic free."

The animal health companies have been given three months to comply with the FDA's directives, but they actually have three years to come into compliance.

On the state level, Johnson Smith says there are several ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments affecting animal agriculture that bear watching.

"The animal rights community has been so actively engaged in the legislative process and we anticipate 2014 being even more of a 'ratcheted up' level of activity by groups like HSUS and other activists. Recognizing that the overall public is generations away from the farm community, they are easily sold a bill of goods by these animal rights organizations. It's really important that we protect agriculture in this country. Food doesn't just appear in the grocery store. People have to actually own farms. They have to work farms. They have to produce products that go into the grocery stores. So, with there being that disconnect, it's really important that the state legislatures take initiative and are very proactive in protecting agriculture.

"I think we're going to see a ton of initiatives, everything from right-to-farm acts to ensuring the health of the animal and protection of the animals that are owned by farmers so that in disasters or emergency situations or misleading information by activist groups that the animals are not transported out of state.

"I think we will see some others that are requiring the activists to actually report, in the cases of these undercover videos, rather than just being able to walk away and promote a video that falsely represents an entire industry. They are actually going to be held accountable to turning the videos over to authorities and letting people who understand animal agriculture to conduct the investigations."

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.


Kay Johnson Smith talks to Ron Hays about issues facing animal ag producers.
right-click to download mp3


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