Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fresh targets to combat threat of antimicrobial resistance

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Livestock

New targets have been announced for farmers to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production.

It comes as UK sales of antibiotics for livestock fell to their lowest level since records began in 1993. The 27% drop in sales for food-producing animals means the industry has beaten a government target two years early – although more needs to be done.

Targets so agriculture can play its part in reducing antibiotic resistance alongside doctors and pet owners were unveiled by the Targets Task Force set up by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA).

Defra minister Lord Gardiner said: “The UK is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle antibiotic resistance. The fact we have overtaken our target two years ahead of schedule demonstrates our commitment to preventing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and shows our approach is working.

Excellent example

“Farmers and vets must be commended for setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow, upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics available for future generations.”

Lord Gardiner said it was important to continue making progress and set our sights on reducing use even further. “Ambitious specific reduction targets in different sectors will be yet another positive step towards safeguarding antibiotics,” he said.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones praised farmers’ willingness to be ambitious. “Members have worked very hard and have shown incredible leadership and persistence. They have also provided unprecedented support and inspiration to each other.”

Resistance

The Targets Task Force was first proposed by RUMA after the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance was published in May 2016. The group was formed
after the government said it wanted sector-specific targets in place by the end of 2017.

Specialist sheep vet Fiona Lovatt said: “Convincing farmers to change practices is tricky, and none of us want to see an increase in levels of disease, but those who have had the courage to work with their vets to change what they do are now seeing what is possible.”

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has funded a number of initiatives to help reduce reliance on antibiotics to combat issues such as mastitis, bovine viral diarrhoea. It is also helping sheep farmers control enzootic abortion through vaccination.

AHDB research director Bill Parker. “AHDB promotes disease prevention methods such as vaccination, biosecurity and improved management and housing to reduce the need for antibiotics on farms by preventing and eliminating disease.”

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