U.S. Pork’s Commitment to Responsible Antibiotic Use Making a Difference

Nine months after the full implementation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidance 209 and 213, America’s pig farmers continue to demonstrate their awareness and commitment to doing what’s right on the farm. Since the rules went into effect on Jan. 1, the National Pork Board has received only two calls into its farmer call center requesting clarification or information on the rule change.

“America’s 60,000 pig farmers are keenly aware of the change occurring on farms, and they were clearly ready, willing and able to meet the requirements of these new rules,” said Terry O’Neel, board president and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “To have just two calls into our call center tells me that the requirements are being met and our two-year proactive education plan has paid off.”

FDA guidance 209 and 213 ends the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and increases veterinarian oversight for on-farm antibiotic use through the Veterinary Feed Directive and prescriptions. All human medically important antibiotics administered to pigs in feed and water must have direct veterinarian oversight. This strengthens an already strong veterinary-client-patient relationship between pig farmers and their veterinarians. Both also take proactive pig management and biosecurity steps to increase the health of pigs and reduce the need for antibiotics.

Close to home, O’Neel recently completed the USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) survey on his pig farm. The survey reviewed written antibiotic-use records from July through December 2016. During the survey with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture veterinarian, it was revealed that O’Neel had reduced his antimicrobial use.

“We’ve improved our herd health practices on our farm and are already seeing a reduced need for antibiotics, all while improving our pigs’ health,” O’Neel said. “Third parties who try to evaluate antibiotic-use policies do not account for or understand the real change underway on today’s farms.”

O’Neel added that, “Veterinarians and farmers work every day to protect the health and welfare of their pigs, reduce antibiotic use and lower the carbon footprint of pork production to raise the safest food possible. It is truly a delicate balance for America’s pig farmers and it is perplexing when others try to set arbitrary limits on antibiotic use that are actually detrimental to animal health, the environment and food…

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