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AFBF: Antibiotics vital to animal health, food protection

The American Farm Bureau Federation is expressing strong opposition to legislation that would remove and restrict important antibiotics for veterinary and farm use. In a letter to Congress, AFBF President Bob Stallman said the bills (H.R. 1549 and S. 619) would handicap veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers in their efforts to protect the nation's food supply and maintain the health of their farm animals.

"Farmers and ranchers and the veterinarians they work with use antibiotics carefully, judiciously and according to label instructions, primarily to treat, prevent and control disease in our flocks and herds," Stallman said. "Antibiotics are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced."

Stallman said more than 40 years of antibiotic use in farm animals proves that such use does not pose a public health threat. In fact, Stallman said that "recent government data shows the potential that it might occur is declining." Bacteria survival through food processing and handling is decreasing, food-borne illness is down, development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in animals is stable and resistant food-borne bacteria in humans are declining.

"In order to raise healthy animals, we need tools to keep them healthy--including medicines that have been approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration," Stallman said. "Restricting access to these important tools will jeopardize animal health and compromise our ability to contribute to public health through food safety."

Stallman told members of Congress that by opposing the bills, they would "protect the professional judgment of veterinarians and livestock producers in providing safe and healthful meat products" for consumers.



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