Farmers, veterinarians and feed makers from Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee gathered in Hanceville Aug. 25 to learn about new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on antibiotics and livestock.
Starting in December 2016, the FDA will implement the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which will require farmers have a prescription to deliver antibiotics to livestock through feed.
“This meeting allowed farmers a chance to hear directly from FDA representatives about reasons behind these new rules and ways the regulations may impact what they do on their farms,” said Nate Jaeger of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “Attendees also voiced concerns and offered solutions to challenges the industry may face with implementing the regulations.”
Guest speaker Stephen Donaldson, Cullman County farmer and partner in J & R Feed Service, said he hopes the rules will improve public perception of agriculture.
“Consumers are ultimately dictating what we do,” said Donaldson, who also works for the Alabama Farmers Cooperative. “Farmers have already done a great job becoming more judicious with antibiotic use, and I hope we’ve done enough that this rule won’t be a big issue.”
Donaldson said farmers will need to develop a good relationship with a local large animal veterinarian, and they should be patient with feed mills as changes are implemented.
“I think we’ll see new or different management practices in the livestock industry and there will be more natural products introduced to livestock feed for health issues,” he said.
The VFD could affect beef, catfish, dairy, equine, meat goat, pork, poultry and sheep farmers.
The regional meeting in Alabama was one of 12 coordinated by the non-profit Farm Foundation to educate farmers and agricultural representatives about the upcoming changes. Comments from the workshops will be reported at a national summit later this fall.