The issues surrounding antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to build; now the state of Oregon has joined the debate. The Oregon Legislature is deciding on two bills that would significantly limit the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production, according to a Statesman Journal article.
Testimony for House Bill 2598 was heard by the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources in March. The Senate Committee on Health Care heard Senate Bill 920 on April 6. Both bills aim to stop the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and feed efficiency, as well as halt antibiotic use for disease prevention by distributing antibiotics to healthy animals. Farms would also have to report their antibiotic usage.
On April 3, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association released a letter template clarifying why SB 920 and HB 2598 were detrimental to dairy production. The association encouraged its members to sign the letter and then send it to their respective legislators, telling them to vote against the proposed legislation.
Other opponents of the bills maintain that antibiotic use for disease prevention is necessary in a herd setting. According to the Capital Press, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association opposes the bill because its definition of “nontherapeutic” includes antibiotic uses that are necessary to ensure herd health, such as when a disease is “expected or is in the beginning stage.”
If either bill passes, Oregon would become the first state to regulate antibiotic use in concentrated animal feeding operations.
The bills’ proponents feel federal regulation of growth promotion and feed efficiency isn’t enough, and disease prevention needs to be addressed, according the Statesman Journal article. Supporters suggest that distributing antibiotics to healthy animals for disease prevention covers up the source of the problem: unsanitary living conditions for the animals.
The article quotes Dave Rosenfeld, executive director for OSPIRG, as saying, “It’s like never bathing your kids then giving them antibiotics every day so they don’t get pinkeye.”
Opposing groups, like Oregon Farm Bureau, have pointed out that the federal government is already regulating antibiotic use.
The FDA has put in place a plan that phases out antibiotics meant for growth promotion by December 2016.
And on March 27, the White House announced its own plan to fight antibiotic resistance, reports CBS News.
According to a White House press release, Obama’s plan – called “The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria” – outlines federal activities over the next five years to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines and other therapeutics.
CBS reports the plan will also increase funding to the USDA to improve industry practices regarding the use of antibiotics. PD
—Summarized by Progressive Dairyman staff from cited sources