Ask my husband. I’m a worrier.
I worry about making sure the house is clean before company comes over. As a breastfeeding mom, I worry about whether I’m producing enough milk to feed my son. I even lie awake worrying about that one time twenty years ago when I mispronounced the word “butte” while reading out loud in class. But one thing that’s not on my list of worries? Antibiotic use in livestock.
If it makes your “worry” list, you’ll be glad to know sales of antibiotics approved for livestock, that are also “medically-important” for humans have decreased by 33 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to recent data from the Federal Drug Administration. Data also reflects that decline is on top of the 43 percent decline in antibiotic sales from 2015 to 2017.
Some may say the reason for the decline is the Veterinary Feed Directive, a federal law that went into effect January 2017 that encourages the judicious use of antibiotic use in livestock. But, it’s worth noting there was a 14 percent decline in antibiotic sales even before this new law took place.
Even before the new protocols were put into place, farmers found alternatives to antibiotics by moving livestock indoors. Chris Rademacher, associate director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University, says farmers noticed in using climate-controlled buildings that are routinely cleaned and sanitized that they were able to decrease antibiotic use. Barns also can lessen disease risk by keeping livestock animals from other “wild” animals that can carry disease and make it easier to separate animals for individual care.
As farmers continue to embrace technology to improve animal care, Rademacher predicts there will be earlier detection of potential diseases which will help increase individual animal treatment and minimize the use of antibiotics for groups of animals.
But, what about all the confusing claims made on labels? Do they have you worried?
The United States Department of Agriculture oversees a strict waiting or “withdrawal” period to ensure animals that go to market do not have antibiotics in their system. So, no matter if you choose to buy meat at the grocery store labeled “raised without antibiotics” or not, you can know you are not eating anything that contains antibiotics thanks to federal law.
I hope this helps take antibiotics off your “worry list” this year.
In fact, I think we should all make 2019 the year of “less worrying.” That’s my goal—until my son starts crawling. Then I’ll have to worry about tall furniture, electrical outlets, “mystery” crumbs on the floor, coffee table corners…By Caitlyn Lamm. Caitlyn is Iowa Farm Bureau’s public relations specialist.