US pig producers fear the proposed bill that should ban antibiotics will bring them more rules to follow.
It is already the fourth time that such a plan is being discussed. However, the change that the plan is being adopted this time is bigger than ever before, because the Democrates (who have the majority in the Congress) are more pro biological farming than their opposites; the Republicans.
Although being adopted by Senator Edward Kennedy among others, the bill only wants to phase out seven antibiotics, all very close to antibiotics that are being used in human medicine. For that reason, medical professionals applaud the proposals.
70% of the antibiotics used in poultry, pigs and beef cattle is used as growth promoter instead of medicine according to data from the Union of Concerned Scientist. The writers of the bill therefore want to reduce the unnecessary use of these large amounts of antibiotics.
David Wallinga from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis also points out another point in the bill. When the bill will be implemented, the antibiotic use in US livestock farming needs to be recorded. This has never been done before and could be the reason why farmers are not so positive about this bill.
Although doctors seem to like the idea, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is strongly against the new bill. The measures are too extreme and limit the management practices of the pig farmers, according to David Warner, spokes person of the NPPC.
According to Warner, in feed antibiotics are not used on a large scale by pig producers. “The antibiotics are expensive and therefore the farmers try to reduce the use of these medicines”, says Warner.
“If pigs are healthy, the pig farmer would not spend thousands of dollars on antibiotics”, he adds.
He agrees that antibiotics are used as a preventive measure, “but that is normally only for a short period and on a very low scale”, Warner commented. He also addressed that the amount of antibiotics use for sick animals is more than the use of antibiotics in the feed.
After the antibiotic ban in Denmark, the curative use of antibiotics increased from 57,300 kilo to 112,650 kilo.
â€¢ National Pork Producers Council
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