The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging congressional members to oppose legislation that would restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry.
In letters to Senate and House members, AFBF said the legislation would handicap veterinarians and farmers in their efforts to maintain animal health and protect the nation’s food supply.
“Farm Bureau members use antibiotics carefully, judiciously and according to label instructions to treat, prevent and control disease in their flocks and herds,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “These products are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced from these animals.”
AFBF went further to say that antibiotic use in animals does not pose a serious public health threat.
“Proponents of the bill suggest that antibiotic use could constitute a public health threat through antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals being passed along, creating a similar resistance in humans,” said Stallman.
“However, in more than 40 years of antibiotics being used to treat animals, such a public health threat has not arisen, and recent government data shows the potential that one might occur is declining.”
Increased use of improved food safety technologies over the past several years has contributed to decreased bacteria survival in food processing/handling and in food-borne illnesses.
“Further, data indicates development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals is stable, and food-borne bacteria resistance in humans is declining,” Stallman said. “In fact, recent research indicates using antibiotics to keep animals healthy reduces the incidence of foodborne pathogens in meat.”
Pending bills H.R. 965 (House) and S. 1211 (Senate) would remove specific antibiotics and classes of antibiotics that are important for use in animals from the market.