October 2, 2008


US producers urge continued use of antibiotics in pig farming


Antibiotics are used by producers not only to protect pigs and humans but also to maintain pork farming as a viable business, US pork producers told a government hearing.


The National Pork Producers Council at a congressional hearing has urged lawmakers not to restrict the use of antibiotics in pork production as it is said to be a necessary tool to protect animal and public health.


Testifying on behalf of NPPC, Dr. Craig Rowles, a veterinarian and partner with Elite Pork in Carroll, Iowa, told the House Agriculture Committee's livestock subcommittee that pork producers use antibiotics to keep their animals healthy and produce safe, nutritious and quality pork. He said that producers work with their veterinarians to decide how, when and which antibiotics are administered.


Rowles pointed out that the US pork industry has established programmes like the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and the Take Care: Use Antibiotics Responsibly programmes, that include principles and guidelines on antibiotic use that help protect animal and public health and animal well-being.


He said that banning certain antibiotics could have detrimental effects on pig mortality and even public health. Additionally, he told the committee, a ban would raise producers' production costs by more than US $700 million over 10 years.


Rowles told the panel that as a swine veterinarian, he needs all the tools available to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering and promote public health.


Several bills have been introduced in Congress over the years, including those in the current one to prohibit the use in livestock of certain antibiotics.


NPCC's director of science and technology, Dr Jennifer Greiner said pork producers and veterinarians have a moral obligation to use antibiotics responsibly to protect human health and provide safe food. Producers also have an ethical obligation to maintain the health of their pigs and antibiotics are just merely part of the health care system that pigs need.

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