The Food and Drug Administration releases animal antibiotic sales data annually. The report for 2016 shows decreases in two key categories: sales for livestock and poultry, and medically important antibiotics. Although the latest report shows a reduction, we need to focus on using antibiotics responsibly, which in agriculture means to use less while preserving the ability to responsibly use antibiotics when needed.
I am deeply troubled by the increasing call to eliminate the use of antibiotics to prevent disease in animals. As a veterinarian focused on the health of animals, I can say without question that if we lose the ability to use antibiotics for prevention purposes, more animals will die.
The use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is an important factor in providing the safe, affordable food we need and want. At the same time, antibiotic resistance is a complex and serious issue. That’s why farmers, veterinarians and regulators, principally the Food and Drug Administration, collaborated to address antibiotic resistance, changing the way animal agriculture operates today.