WASHINGTON — Livestock and poultry groups hosted educational briefings on Capitol Hill on Feb. 23 to share the information about the importance of tools like antibiotics in raising healthy food animals.
Co-hosts of the informational sessions were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association through beef checkoff funding, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Turkey Federation, American Meat Institute and the National Meat Association.
These briefings were held in cooperation with U.S. Reps. David Scott (D-Ga.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Zack Space (D-Ohio) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Top livestock and poultry health experts from throughout the U.S. presented information to attendees.
“Prompt and judicious use of efficacious antibiotics is critical for the successful treatment and, at times, control of specific bacterial diseases in cattle,” said Dr. Guy Loneragan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at West Texas A&M University and presenter at the briefings. “Certain F.D.A.-approved antibiotics also enable us to significantly improve the efficiency of beef production. Maintaining access to F.D.A.-approved safe and effective technologies, including animal health products, helps ensure both the health and resource efficiency of U.S. herds and flocks.”
Responsible-use programs have been developed specific to feed, livestock and poultry organizations to give feed companies and producers specific guidelines and assistance on the safe and proper use of antibiotics in health management systems.
“We use antibiotics judiciously and responsibly to protect the health of our herds and to produce safe pork,” said Craig Rowles, D.V.M. “We know a ban on antibiotics, like the one in Denmark, will have adverse affects on our pigs, will raise the cost of production and will not provide a benefit to public health.”
There is no conclusive scientific evidence, despite the unsubstantiated allegations by activist groups, that shows the use of antibiotics on farms contributes significantly to an increase in antibiotic resistance in humans, according to the livestock and poultry groups. A growing body of evidence shows just the opposite; primarily, the responsible, professional use of these products keeps animals healthy and enhances animal welfare while not contributing to resistance.
“Taking F.D.A.-approved animal drugs off the market would leave farmers and veterinarians with very limited options for preventing and controlling disease in livestock and poultry, which would have serious repercussions for animal health and preventing foodborne disease, with the strong likelihood that there would be no improvement in human health,” said Dr. Timothy Cummings, clinical poultry professor for the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine at Mississippi State University. “It's absolutely vital that any decisions about the care of animals and the safety of our food be based on sound science rather than unsubstantiated concerns.”