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It’s Happening

Written by Dennis Sun

A while back, we all read or heard about phase one of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that will take place this coming year. With all the talk about livestock and antibiotics, it was going to happen, but it could be worse. We all know there has been a lot of talk in the past years about antibiotics being used excessively in livestock and then, so some said, creating bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics.

I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that cattle and sheep raised in the open country or pastures are not the reason for this directive. The dairy, pork, chicken and turkey producers – those animals raised in confinement – are the ones who are really being targeted, but we all have to live with it. The American consumer is scared of antibiotics, but they also wants a prescription every time their child has a runny nose.

This whole directive is meant to just appease the consumer, I think. No meat or poultry products should ever have antibiotics is their system or get into the food chain because the withdrawal periods in place prevent it. Those who don’t think meat should be on our plates and think we should just get our protein from vegetables have convinced the average consumer of this garbage. So now, we have to do all of this to keep consumer confidence in our meat products based on misinformation that they were fed and then believed. As livestock producers, we have let ourselves down by not combating this issue sooner. It is another reason we need a strong checkoff for our meat products.

The Centers for Disease Control claims that every year in the United States at least 2 million people are infected by bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment, and more than 20,000 people will die from those infections. Maybe it’s from all the antibiotics that humans are taking.

The VFD was written and passed into law to try and curb these resistant infections.

By December 2016, livestock producers will no longer be able to legally use medically important antibiotics for growth promotion or feed efficiency under a new law enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, livestock producers will be able to use medically important antibiotics for treating sick animals or controlling a potential outbreak of a disease. To use those antibiotics, you will have to go through a vet and work through the paperwork of the records following the medicine. Some of the regulated antibiotics are penicillin, sulfas and tetracycline. Ionophores such as Rumensin and Bovatec are not included in the VDF, but they will be impacted if they are fed in combination with antibiotics. They say that last minute requests for feed grade antibiotics will be a thing of the past.

Visit with your vet or vet products supplier to see what you need to do. I’m sure there will be some misinformation out there to confuse everyone. Stay positive on the issue. We have to have the trust of America’s consumers in our meat products.