NC Livestock Specialist say FDA Guidance Could be Problematic

With FDA’s Guidance for antibiotic use in food animals that came out on Wednesday, there’s been some head-scratching among veterinarians and producers a like. Dr. Tom Ray, Director of Livestock Health Programs, with NCDA’s State Veterinarian’s Office says there’s large swaths of gray that have yet to be addressed:

“The old saying – the devil is in the details – its these details that will determine the impact. It will have impact from a veterinarian standpoint. Often there is a grey area between therapeutic use and preventative care. We frequently look at any kind of disease and see that we are far better off in a preventative mode rather than in treatment after the fact. There are therapeutic levels necessary for prevention and therapeutic levels for treatment after the fact. Exactly how the FDA decides the details of this guidance will have a big impact on what to do with our livestock and poultry.” 

As far as NPPC’s allegation that smaller producers will be affected worse than large, Ray doesn’t necessarily agree:

“It could affect either; everything is a matter of scale. Just because they a small operation doesn’t mean they are more or less likely to come into contact with or be impacted by these rules. It gets back to the details more than who is using them.” 

Bob Ford, Executive Director of the North Carolina Poultry Federation says that as far as poultry production is concerned, it’s largely a non-issue:

“Today we are using less antibiotics in the poultry industry. We have found ways to substitute keep them healthy and productive and get the birds to market. It shouldn’t affect us as much today as it would have twenty years ago.” 

As far as the rare instance that antibiotics are used, the manufacturer’s label has a withdrawal period recommendation, which Ford says is very strictly adhered to:

“The withdrawal periods go along with the label claims of the product. The industry has always adhered to strict withdrawal periods whether therapeutic or feed grade antibiotic.” 

And the cost of feed makes wholesale use of antibiotics prohibitively expensive, according to Ford:

“The industry is very cost-conscious and if they can save some money by avoiding expensive products that go into the feed, they will. The antibiotics have been used safely on farms for years to treat and control diseases; it’s the humane thing to do, to treat animals when they are sick. But just uncontrolled use of antibiotics is a thing of the past.” is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.