CDFA’s Work to Regulate Antibiotics in Livestock

A report issued last week by a consortium of environmental groups on antibiotics in the meat supply chain highlights the importance of work being undertaken by California Department of Food and Agriculture as the first state in the nation to regulate the use of antibiotics in livestock. The report touched on CDFA’s efforts but it is important to clearly state what is being done to implement the legislation in collaboration with sister agencies and a broad, diverse set of stakeholders.

As of January 1st, 2018, California became the first state in the nation to require veterinary oversight for the use of all medically important antibiotics used in livestock (not just in feed or water). The state law also prohibits growth promotion use and goes above and beyond the federal requirements to prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics in a regular pattern for disease prevention unless necessary for surgical or medical procedures. This is currently the only legislation that requires data collection from willing participants to monitor antibiotic use practices, assess trends in antibiotic resistance, and to inform the development of antimicrobial stewardship guidelines and best management practices to effect change in antibiotic usage.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has hired experienced and qualified staff to work with multiple state and federal partners, as well as university researchers, to collect information across California’s diverse livestock production types, coordinating with existing systems and efforts where possible. In less than two years, the Antimicrobial Use & Stewardship program’s efforts, through in-house surveys and contracted studies, have developed data from  nearly 1,400 operations, representing more than half a million animals across 55 counties in California, and- reflecting antibiotic use and management practices across beef and dairy cattle, sheep, and backyard poultry operations.

Additionally, the Antimicrobial Use & Stewardship program has initiated on-farm sampling, covering a population of more than 50 operations and 128,000 animals in California that will voluntarily be sampled over time. Data collection efforts are ongoing and will continue to expand as the program moves forward.

CDFA is committed to fulfilling the requirements of state law and continuing to work with all stakeholders to achieve a safe, secure, and bountiful food supply, while reducing the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

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