“I have a hard time accepting the fact that a CEO in a board room, who has not taken the time to engage and learn about our industry, should be allowed to make a snap decision regarding veterinary medicine and beef cattle health in the name of responding to activist groups masquerading as consumers,” says Dan Thomson, DVM, director of the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) at Kansas State University (KSU).
Thomson’s frustration echoes that of many in the industry when it comes to the ongoing battle cattle producers face in preserving their right to provide animal care through the judicious use of antibiotics.
“We continually improve the best system for the judicious use of antibiotics in the world, including programs, such as the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act. We have Beef Quality Assurance. We have ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections by state and federal agencies. Now we are moving forward with the Veterinary Feed Directive,” Thomson says.
“The veterinary profession and the beef industry work hard with federal agencies to continuously provide safe, wholesome beef, while providing the best health programs for our cattle. We need a system in which people at all levels in the industry communicate with one another so that everyone understands the relative risks and the unintended consequences of making decisions without proper diligence.”
Yet, he explains, pressure mounts against antibiotics and other animal health tools veterinarians and producers use to provide animal welfare.
Moreover, until now, no one has gone straight to the source of antibiotic use in the cattle business—the producer—to assess use.
That’s about to change.
The National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) and BCI are joining forces to do just that with a survey open to all beef cattle producers. “This survey was developed to explore the issue of antibiotic use and resistance in the areas where food animal antibiotics are actually used—at the producer level,” explains Tiffany Lee, DVM, a BCI graduate teaching assistant. “Many medical doctors and veterinarians, and even the companies that produce these antibiotics, have given their opinions and expert advice. However, we have not heard from all of the experts—those who use antibiotics as part of their care for the animals they raise.”
Lee explains survey questions focus on use of antibiotics and producer opinions on the issues of consumer perception and antibiotic resistance. KSU veterinarians who represent the industry on the forefront of the national antibiotic debate developed the questions.
“Our aim with the survey is to illustrate the infrastructure that exists within the industry to use and monitor the judicial use of antibiotics, including the depth of the client-veterinary relationship,” Thomson says.
Survey results will be summarized and presented at the NIAA Antibiotic Symposium, Nov. 3-5 in Atlanta. Results will also be presented to other industry groups, such as the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.
Online survey participation is open to all beef producers through Oct. 15. To participate, click here.
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