In addition to sharply lower prices, livestock producers are facing another hurdle in the form of a new government regulation that will take effect Jan. 1 regarding the use of medically important antibiotics such as aureomycin.
Producers of beef, pork, and chicken will be required to absorb costs incurred by veterinarians to oversee their operations and produce a legal protocol for such antibiotic use. A prescription, or veterinary feed directive, will be required for each purchase of feed containing antimicrobial antibiotics.
“The bottom line is, it’s changing, and we’re taking it seriously,” veterinarian Brendan Kraus of Spur Ridge Veterinary Clinic said.
The ruling is based on the assumption that use of certain antibiotics in animals has a carry-over effect on humans when meat is consumed, resulting in bacterial resistance to human antibiotics.
Kraus said there is no scientific evidence to back up that claim. Nevertheless, producers must comply to allay consumer concerns, he said.
“We don’t want animal antibiotics to be taken away,” he said. “This is damage control.”
Veterinarian Jessica Laurin of Animal Health Center in Marion said she is working with cattlemen to take care of VFD requirements while visiting their premises this fall to do routine work.
She said her clinic would be charged a fee for the use of electronic services to process VFDs, the cost of which will be passed on to clients.
Some veterinarians may charge an annual fee for their services.
“We will do the best job we can for producers,” Laurin said. “We are hoping this will help us manage anaplasmosis, and maybe we will see if options other than antibiotics are available.”
After Jan. 1, Countryside Feed at Hillsboro or any of the local coops where medicated feed is produced or purchased will be required to have a copy of the producer’s prescription or feed directive in their files at the time of purchase.
Tim Diener, supervisor of the quality management system at Countryside, said the company has a software program that will keep track of prescriptions electronically.
“It’s going to be a big deal to get started but not so bad later on,” he said.
Kraus said he thinks having a closer veterinary-client relationship will have value for producers by helping them be more efficient in maintaining the health of their animals.