Media outlets like PORK Network, Drovers, Bovine Veterinarian and AgWeb are working diligently to make sure their respective producer-audiences are informed of the veterinary feed directives and the corresponding changes related to antibiotic use coming in January 2017.

Livestock groups, too, have a vested interest in educating producers as well as consumers about the impending rules. This week, the Animal Health Institute, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Animal Agriculture Alliance launched a new website: www.togetherABX.com, which provides “information about how the Food and Drug Administration’s new policy will change the way antibiotics are used to keep food animals healthy,” a release from the groups said.

The new rules mean antibiotics for livestock that are similar to those used in humans will no longer be used for animal growth purposes. In addition, the policy requires a veterinarian/client/patient relationship, meaning a veterinarian must supervise antibiotic use on farms.

“A licensed veterinarian on a farm is to animals what a physician is to humans,” said Dr. Richard Carnevale, vice president of regulatory, scientific and international affairs at the Animal Health Institute. “Veterinarians provide a critical service by keeping farm animals healthy, thereby safeguarding human health. As a veterinarian, I hope the ‘togetherABX’ effort will result in greater public understand of the role of veterinarians.”

“This policy ensures that the antibiotics classes we need as humans are only administered to food animals when medically necessary to fight disease,” said Alexander S. Mathews, President and CEO of the Animal Health Institute (AHI) in the release. “Most importantly, the policy protects animal health and well-being while providing consumers with the safest food possible.”

Protecting animal health is vital to producers, and consumers need to understand that the mantra, “No antibiotics. Ever,” is not necessarily good welfare for animals, any more than withholding antibiotics from children when they’re sick would be a logical course of action.

In addition, it’s widely known through extensive research that the vast majority of potential antibiotic resistance is due to overuse and/or improper use of antibiotics by humans.

Nonetheless, antibiotic resistance is a public health concern. That is why animal production practices include judicious use guidelines to ensure that antibiotics can be used to keep food animals healthy, while minimizing the chance of resistant bacteria impacting human health.

“Farmers, veterinarians and the companies that make medicines for animals have collaborated with the FDA to implement guidelines that maximize animal health and well-being, while providing consumers with the safest food possible,” said the release.

Visit the site at www.togetherABX.com.