In response to President Obama’s Sept. 18 executive order regarding antibiotic resistance, the American Farm Bureau Federation emphasized U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ commitment to national health and responsible livestock production practices.

AFBF President Bob Stallman noted that raising farm animals “is a 24/7 job, and the health and well-being of livestock is the top priority for farmers and ranchers. Healthy animals mean healthful meat, milk and eggs.”

At the same time, Stallman said. “America’s livestock farmers live on their farms and care about the health of both their families and their animals. Just as parents do not give antibiotics to a child, except when necessary and prescribed by a doctor, farmers don’t rush to treat animals with antibiotics.”

The executive order directs the federal government to work domestically and internationally to reduce the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to help ensure the continued availability of effective treatments for bacterial infections. It establishes a new interagency task force and federal advisory council and includes calls for better monitoring of resistant infections, improved regulations governing antibiotic use, more robust research to develop new and effective methods for combating antibiotic resistance, and increased international cooperation to curb the global rise in resistant bacteria.

“We encourage those developing a strategy on this issue with the goal of protecting our nation’s farms and the American people to continue a dialogue with farmers and ranchers in order to ensure a successful outcome,” Stallman said.

Lindsay Reames, assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, concurred. “Farmers who use antibiotics to treat animals raised for food do so for very specific reasons, and they are following specific guidelines to protect consumers’ health and the integrity of the U.S. food supply,” she said. “We believe it is imperative that agricultural stakeholders have a role in discussions on national antibiotic strategies, and that those strategies be based on sound science.”