California legislators review antibiotics bill

by Erica Shaffer
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SACRAMENTO – A bill introduced in the California Senate would ban ranchers from using antibiotics important to human medicine. Members of the California State Assembly Committee on Agriculture held a hearing on SB 27 July 1. California Sen. Jerry Hill introduced the bill in December 2014.

Current laws regulate the distribution and use of livestock drugs as defined by the US Department of Agriculture. Individuals must obtain a license from USDA to manufacture, distribute or store commercial feed, including feed containing antibiotics.

But SB 27 includes tougher restrictions on the use of medically important antibiotics. It bans the use of medically important antimicrobials “as defined, to livestock unless prescribed by a veterinarian pursuant to a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, as specified. The bill would make it unlawful to administer a medically important antimicrobial drug to livestock solely to cause an increased rate of weight gain or improved feed efficiency.”

The bill also would require the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture to track the use of medically important antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in addition to patterns of emerging resistance. The agency would submit annual report summarizing the data for lawmakers, according to the text of the bill. A violation of the law would be a misdemeanor offense.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed an antibiotics bill (SB 835) in October 2014. He said the bill was unnecessary because it codified Federal Drug Administration standards that phase out antibiotic use for growth promotion. Also, most major animal producers already had pledged to go beyond the federal standard.
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