More progress towards farm antibiotic goals

Farming | Published:

Two years after industry-led targets for antibiotic use were identified for all main farm livestock species in the UK, a second annual review of progress has been released, including details of where targets have been achieved early and where challenges remain.

Gwyn Jones is chairman of RUMA, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance

The "Two Year On" report, released by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance targets task for to coincide with our conference this week shows progress towards goals for data collection, use of antibiotics, and uptake of preventative measures such as vaccines and training.

The report follows up on the work of the task force in 2017 in which a leading farmer and veterinary surgeon from each sector identified different starting points and potential for reductions in antibiotic use in each species by 2020, then worked with their respective sectors to gain support for the plans.

The review not only provides transparency and accountability, but collects information on progress into one place and explains what is underpinning the bigger picture.

This report shows the granularity behind the very welcome reductions in antibiotics sales announced by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate at our conference.

Overall we have a positive story, with antibiotic sales having more than halved in five years, but each livestock sector is in a very different place. Even within a sector, there can be a wide range of results with some very progressive producers, and others yet to engage.

The poultry meat and laying hen sectors have maintained low antibiotic use and are below target. The game bird sector has achieved its planned halving of antibiotic use early, but is looking at further cuts. Trout and salmon are near or below target, and with a 60 per cent fall in antibiotic use over three years, the pig sector is on track to meet ambitious reductions by 2020.

However, disease is proving a major challenge, some of which is being exacerbated by climate change.

Gwyn Jones is chairman of RUMA, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance

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