OSU Extension helps ranchers follow strict new antibiotic rules


Antibiotics are an effective weapon against bacterial disease. But because they’re used widely in both animals and humans, some bacteria have evolved into deadly, drug-resistant super-strains. About 2 million people in the U.S. are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A recently enacted federal rule significantly restricts the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. The rule is the latest and toughest in a series of FDA regulations promoting “judicious use” of antibiotics under the 1996 Animal Drug Availability Act. “This new rule fundamentally changes the way feed-grade antibiotics are labeled and used in livestock operations,” says Sergio Arispe, an Extension livestock expert based in Malheur County.

Arispe is the lead author of a free Extension publication called The Veterinary Feed Directive: Questions and Answers for Oregon Livestock Producers (EM 9151), intended to guide livestock producers in following the stricter rule.

The new publication talks about the drug restrictions in detail and helps livestock operators understand and comply with the record-keeping rules. Most important, Arispe says, it guides them in forming an effective, ongoing therapeutic relationship with a veterinarian.

“That’s the biggest change of this rule: it spells out what a working veterinarian-client-patient relationship looks like,” Arispe says. “This is something we’ve always encouraged on our livestock producers—the importance of building a relationship with your veterinarian, so he or she is truly part of your management team.”

In 2017, cattle and calves represented Oregon’s second highest-value agricultural commodity, which generated $820 million from cash receipts.

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