The U.S. Cattlemen's Association today urged opposition to H.R. 1549, the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009," and asked leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure the measure is not attached to other federal legislation.
H.R. 1549, and its companion bill in the U.S. Senate S. 619, prohibits the use of animal antibiotics for non-therapeutic use and calls for all "critical antimicrobial animal drugs to go through a second Food and Drug Administration FDA approval process within two years of enactment of the legislation."
USCA Director and International Trade Committee Chair, Doug Zalesky, Colorado said, "It is admirable that Congress wants to focus on consumer food safety protections. However, H.R. 1549 and its companion bill in the Senate do nothing to mitigate or regulate the use of antimicrobial drugs in foreign meat production, putting U.S. producers at a significant trade disadvantage. On a regular basis the U.S. imports foreign meat derived from animals managed under far less regulation than currently exists in the U.S., let alone what H.R. 1549 proposes to do. Before legislation like this is rushed through, Congress should undertake a thorough study of antimicrobial drug use in foreign meat production and how that impacts U.S. consumers as well as how much antimicrobial drug use is subsidized in foreign countries."
The House Rules Committee recently held a hearing on the measure. While H.R. 1549 would dramatically affect the U.S. livestock industry, no representatives of livestock production and no veterinarians were invited to testify. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-IA, was the only witness who testified in opposition to the bill.
"We were extremely disappointed with the Rules Committee's unusual hearing on H.R. 1549 to which nearly all witnesses invited to testify were from one side of this issue," said Jess Peterson, USCA Executive Vice President. "Cattle producers deserve to be heard in the public debate over legislation that will impact their businesses. To date they have not been given that opportunity."
"There is speculation on Capitol Hill that this bill may be attached to food safety legislation or to health care reform measures," said Jess Peterson, USCA's Executive Vice President. "We oppose that action. Reducing or limiting the tools livestock producers and their veterinarians have to reduce food safety risks during production is far too important not to slow the process down and allow for full and thorough examination of all the evidence available."
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