SDCA urges caution on proposed changes to antimicrobial availability

Farm Forum

At a public hearing jointly hosted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-APHIS) on May 21 in Pierre, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) leaders urged caution regarding proposed changes to the availability of antimicrobials for food animal production. Due to concerns about antibiotic resistance, FDA is proposing to subject some antimicrobial medications to enhanced veterinary oversight, requiring a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) for some feed- or water-delivered antibiotics that are currently available over the counter.

The Pierre hearing was one of five scheduled throughout the country. SDCA joined over 40 individuals and representatives from the pork, poultry, veterinary and feed milling sectors to express concerns about the potential for increased cost and paperwork burdens that would result as these medications are brought under additional veterinary oversight. Hearing attendees also asked FDA to provide clarity about how the information they collect might be used and what factors will be considered when determining the success or failure of the proposal.

Todd Wilkinson, a partner in Red Stone Feeders and SDCA Vice President, discussed how antimicrobials help him provide a safe, wholesome beef product and noted the changes would increase costs for his low-margin business.

“Red Stone Feeders feeds cattle at multiple geographic locations and works with multiple consulting veterinarians. Requiring VFDs for our operation would mean multiple orders from multiple veterinarians at multiple feed mills, all of which result in increased paperwork and costs for the feedlot, vets and feed mills,” Wilkinson testified. “Adding costs without adding benefits is concerning for cattle feeders, who have been operating on extremely narrow profit margins,” he added.

SDCA President Cory Eich also reminded FDA and APHIS representatives there are many rural areas that are underserved by veterinarians and he pointed out concerns about how the FDA might use the data it collects as a result of this initiative.

“In addition to concerns about veterinary availability as well as increased paperwork and costs, recent releases of producer information by the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrate cattlemen and women are justified in our apprehensions about how additional data collected by the Federal government might be used to harm our businesses,” said Eich.

SDCA urges livestock producers to review FDA’s proposed guidance document, which is available on their website at Producers are also urged to submit written comments to the FDA docket number FDA-2012-N-1046 at