The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today its intent to publish in the Federal Register on Fri., April 13, 2012, its final Guidance 209 and a draft proposed rule on veterinary feed directives. Tom Talbot, a California beef producer, large animal veterinarian and current chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's (NCBA) Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, issued the following statement.
“Raising healthy cattle is the top priority for cattle farmers and ranchers. They work with veterinarians and animal health experts to implement comprehensive herd-health plans, which include the judicious use of antibiotics to prevent, control and treat any cattle health issues. NCBA is pleased that FDA has resisted unscientific calls to completely ban the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials in cattle and other livestock species. However, we remain concerned with regulatory actions that are not based on peer-reviewed science or that set the precedent to take animal care and health decisions out of the hands of veterinarians.
“NCBA raised concern with FDA’s Guidance 209 in 2010 because the agency lacked the necessary science in its recommendations. Antimicrobial resistance is multifaceted, extremely complex issue that cannot be adequately addressed solely by focusing on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Prudent and responsible evaluation of this issue must consider animal, human and industrial use of antibiotics. While we appreciate the agency working with industry on the implementation of Guidance 209, we remain committed that a strong science foundation is critical before moving forward with this guidance.
“The goal of giving veterinarians greater oversight of antibiotic use in food animals is commendable but cattlemen are concerned with the feasibility of implementing the veterinary feed directives given practical hurdles, including a current shortage of veterinarians in many rural areas throughout the country and the increased record-keeping burden it could have on the day-to-day requirements veterinarians currently face. We are pleased FDA has committed to working with farmers and ranchers, veterinarians and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to seek additional information and address these concerns specifically to ensure family-owned farms and ranches are not negatively impacted by this regulation.
“Cattle producers have a strong track record of working with veterinarians in the prudent and appropriate use of antibiotics and other herd health tools. Through multiple industry-led initiatives, including the Beef Quality Assurance Program and the Producer Guidelines for Judicious Use of Antimicrobials, cattle farmers and ranchers work hand-in-hand with veterinarians to select and use antibiotics carefully and only when needed. NCBA will continue carefully reviewing FDA’s documents and working with the agency on these and all other issues related to the health and well-being of America’s cattle herd to ensure producers have the tools they need to continue producing the safest beef supply in the world.”