“You’ve heard the expression, ‘Our meat and milk supply are full of antibiotics’? Well, legislators have heard that too,” said Dr. Bruce Bowman, Harrisonburg field veterinarian for the Virginia Department of Veterinary Services. And “public perception leads legislators to make decisions that are not based on facts or science.”
Bowman led a workshop about veterinary feed directives Feb. 27 at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Winter Expo.
The FDA wanted to limit the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, Bowman said. Farmers used to be able to buy feed containing antibiotics to use for growth promotion or feed efficiency over the counter. With the FDA’s new rule, farmers will no longer be able to buy them over the counter. And they will be able to buy feed with antibiotics only for prevention or treatment of diseases. Additionally, use of that feed has to include either veterinary oversight or consultation.
“Veterinarians didn’t originate this idea,” Bowman said. “But it’s going to be a big deal.”
Starting Jan. 1, 2017, livestock producers won’t be able to use feed containing antibiotics without a veterinary feed directive. The directive is a written document between a farmer, a veterinarian and a feed mill. It allows a farmer to buy and use animal feed containing an approved animal antibiotic to treat an animal.
Producers must obtain a directive from their veterinarians, then send or take the document to a feed manufacturer or supplier to buy the feed.
“This is an important issue for farmers and veterinarians,” said Lindsay Reames, VFBF assistant director of governmental relations. “In order to comply with the new federal regulations, farmers need to have a working relationship with a veterinarian. If they aren’t currently using a vet, they need to find one and start developing that relationship.”