Current rules regarding antimicrobial use in livestock feeds intend to reduce overall use as a means of slowing the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. In a step toward measuring that impact, USDA will conduct a national study this summer, focusing on how antimicrobials are used on feedlots in the United States.

Beginning in May, the USDA’s USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), in collaboration with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), will survey U.S. feedlots with a capacity of at least 50 head. Results of the survey will help provide a baseline for comparisons as the industry works toward reducing antimicrobial use. The survey will document antimicrobial use in feedyards in 2016, prior to the full implementation of new rules from the FDA. Those changes included Guidance for Industry 213, which eliminates the use of medically important antimicrobials for growth promotion in food producing animals, and the veterinary feed directive (VFD) rule, which requires veterinary oversight for use of medically important antimicrobials in animal feed or water.

Objectives for the NAHMS 2017 study include:

  • Describe antimicrobial-use practices in feed and water on feedlots with a capacity of at least 50 head.
  • Estimate the percentage of feedlots administering and the percentage of cattle receiving specific antimicrobials in feed and water by reasons for use.
  • Provide baseline data on antimicrobial-use practices in place prior to implementation of FDA policy changes. This baseline can be used for evaluating trends over time.
  • Describe antimicrobial stewardship practices on U.S. feedlots.

Beginning in May, representatives from NASS will contact producers to inquire about their interest in participating in the study. Once establishing interest, APHIS personnel will begin contacting feedlot operators to schedule in-person interviews, which will be conducted by APHIS veterinarians. Data collection will end in August 2017.

According to the USDA, information on antimicrobial-use practices will provide transparency to consumers and others regarding why antimicrobials are used in cattle feed or water and which antimicrobials they use. The study also will provide national snapshot of antimicrobial stewardship practices, such as recordkeeping related to antimicrobial use and whether a veterinarian was consulted in the decision to use antimicrobials.

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