Livestock producers are on the front lines of the battle to retain the right to use antibiotics, says Mike Lormore, director of dairy veterinary operations for Pfizer Animal Health.
That means you must make every effort to ensure antibiotics are used correctly and judiciously on your farm. First and foremost, you must work with your local veterinarian to have a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship in place so that drugs are being used properly and only when needed.
That includes ensuring that:
- the correct diagnosis of disease is made before treatment.
- the right drug is then prescribed at the right dosage, route of administration and for the right duration.
- extra-label drug use is eliminated.
- animals are identified and accurate records maintained to ensure milk and meat withdrawals are met.
Lormore notes that milk handlers are already stepping up testing for non-beta-lactam drugs. The Pasteurized Milk Ordinance does not currently require such testing, but the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act strictly prohibits any residues in milk and meat—regardless of source.
"Increased enforcement against known bad actors is needed," Lormore says. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning increased milk testing in 2012 of dairies that have had antibiotic residues in meat.)
Finally, producers need to talk to non-farming friends and neighbors about the need to retain the right to use antibiotics on farms. "We need to tell the story on a basis of shared values—that farmers want safe food just as much as non-farmers," Lormore says.
"We’re all consumers of these products, and everyone wants a safe, wholesome food supply for themselves and their families. Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care."