In a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show, Dr. Jennifer Wishnie, a veterinary public health expert, spoke about one of the hottest topics in animal agriculture – antibiotic resistance.
“Many consumers don’t realize that there is veterinary oversight on the farm,” said Dr. Wishnie. “This gives us opportunities to educate them on how antibiotics are used responsibly. When we use antibiotics, there is a potential for resistance to develop, so using them appropriately helps minimize this resistance.”
Wishnie said another concern is the confusion between antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistance. Consumers should understand that the FDA addresses residues by approving antibiotics with specific withdrawal times, which assures that residues are not present in meat for consumption.
“This is an important distinction,” Wishnie said. “If we use an antibiotic responsibly and follow the withdrawal time, the antibiotic residue is minimized, and our food is safe. But this is a point that consumers really don’t understand.”
The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) went into effect on Jan. 1 as a regulatory step changing how antimicrobials are used in food production on the farm making it illegal to use medically important antibiotics to promote animal growth.
“The overarching thinking, and now the regulation, behind all of these guidances was removal of growth promotion or nutritional efficiency uses of medically important antibiotics in feed and water, and bringing the therapeutic uses under increased veterinary oversight,” Wishnie said.
“This is an ongoing conversation. It’s important to communicate,” Wishnie said. “Many new pressures are coming, and a lot of them exist from some misunderstandings, particularly on the consumer side. So those opportunities to talk with your neighbors or to the public about what you do and how veterinarians are involved, your long history of farming and how you use antibiotics responsibly to maintain animal health, I think, can be really enlightening.”
Listen to Dr. Wishnie’s complete remarks here: Dr. Jennifer Wishnie - On Farm Antibiotic Use
View and download photos from the event here: 2017 AFBF Annual Meeting Photos