If you went into cattle ranching because you enjoy working independently and without the meddling oversight of others – your world is about to change.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

The year 2016 will mark a significant transition for the cattle industry as it applies new standards for the use of antibiotics in livestock. The industry is phasing out the use of antibiotics in feed for growth performance. The use of those products will be reserved for prevention, control and treatment of disease.

New rules for the Veterinary Feed Directive will go into effect in December 2016, but the transition will begin this coming Jan. 1, 2016, as manufacturers start changing labels on medicated feed to adhere to federal rules. The transition will be done by 2017, when all feed-grade antibiotics will require a VFD from a licensed vet approving the use of these meds.

These changes have been in the works for almost a decade, yet there are still producers resistant to these reforms. That approach will not help the beef industry. It’s one thing to be anxious about the cost of changing business and practices. But it’s another to disregard what’s happening in today’s economy of information.

The modern consumer is armed with information that, when misused, could erode beef demand in a matter of hours. Ranchers and veterinarians will need to work more transparently in coming years to assure the public the best practices are used in producing beef.


The use of medically important antibiotics and their contribution to the antibiotic resistance health care providers are seeing is not the sole responsibility of agriculture. But ag did play a role – and it’s our turn to follow policies that will ensure safety and a strong future for producers.

This year, the editorial content in Progressive Cattleman will focus heavily on educating producers on the terms of the VFD and why its application is critical for the industry. A common theme will be on making sure producers establish a stronger relationship and communicate more with their veterinarian. They will be the best advocates on the front line of public relations and also making sure antibiotics are responsibly and safely used.

Meanwhile, producers should also spruce up their own working knowledge of antibiotics and defend their responsible use to treat sick animals – not as an incentive to a bottom line but as an incentive to do what is right for livestock.

More oversight and regulation may seem like meddling and a loss of independence. But being an independent cattleman also means being able to accept higher standards and then working responsibly on your own terms to live up to them. We never lose independence by intentionally doing the right thing.  end mark

David Cooper