Great progress in reaching farm antibiotic goals but more yet to be achieved says RUMA

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.
calendar icon 30 October 2019
clock icon 3 minute read

He says that the poultry meat and laying hen sectors have maintained low antibiotic use and are below target. The gamebird 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 percent 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. There is also awareness of how much tougher it will get each year to deliver the changes needed; next steps could require investment or some brave decision-making for some.

“Lack of data for the cattle and sheep sectors also continues to be a problem but we are seeing some very successful initiatives now making a difference, and concerted progress has been made towards resolving the data challenge.”

Mr Jones reiterated the importance of not compromising animal health and welfare or food safety while adjustments were being made.

“The approach has to be sustainable with an end-goal of optimal – not zero – use. Antibiotics play an important role in preventing pain and suffering in our farm livestock as well as ensuring food safety. This is why it’s important to judge progress against the whole range of qualitative and quantitative measures in the review.”

He says that the poultry meat and laying hen sectors have maintained low antibiotic use and are below target. The gamebird 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 percent 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. There is also awareness of how much tougher it will get each year to deliver the changes needed; next steps could require investment or some brave decision-making for some.

“Lack of data for the cattle and sheep sectors also continues to be a problem but we are seeing some very successful initiatives now making a difference, and concerted progress has been made towards resolving the data challenge.”

Mr Jones reiterated the importance of not compromising animal health and welfare or food safety while adjustments were being made.

“The approach has to be sustainable with an end-goal of optimal – not zero – use. Antibiotics play an important role in preventing pain and suffering in our farm livestock as well as ensuring food safety. This is why it’s important to judge progress against the whole range of qualitative and quantitative measures in the review.”

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