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Our Views

Our Views Columns

Date: 9/18/2014

Title: Antimicrobial Resistance Research Topic of Discussion at FDA Staff College

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association hosted another Food and Drug Administration staff college this week in Washington D.C. As part of NCBA’s continuing effort to educate policy influencers here in the District, Guy Loneragan, veterinary epidemiologist and professor of Food Safety and Public Health and at Texas Tech University, attended the meeting to share some of his research pertaining to antimicrobial resistance.

Education remains a top priority for NCBA and bringing producers and industry experts to D.C. is one of the most influential ways grassroots members can be involved in the policy process. As antimicrobial resistance continues to be a topic of conversation in Washington D.C., it is important we have a balanced, scientific discussion on this complex issue. Loneragan’s research is based upon preserving the efficacy of antibiotics into the future to protect human and animal health.

As an industry, cattle producers recognize the importance of having effective antibiotics years down the road. Cattle producers work hand-in-hand with veterinarians and utilize programs like Beef Quality Assurance to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics in livestock.

When looking at the use of antibiotics, it is critically important to weigh the societal benefits of the use along with the societal risks. Loneragan believes that the path forward involves a critical balance of the risks and benefits. But he also believes the industry should continue discover, develop and implement innovative production practices, research, and technologies that reduce the need for antibiotics. Strategic approaches are critical, he said; cutting all antibiotic use in livestock can and will have serious unintended consequences.

With the complexity of the issue, NCBA encourages further discussion with all stakeholders involved. NCBA will remain engaged to ensure a balanced conversation to ensure that sound science will be utilized in decisions regarding antibiotic uses, so that American cattle producers can continue to maintain a healthy herd, which is the cornerstone to providing the safest, most affordable beef supply in the world.

Allowing industry experts and grassroots members to present their knowledge and experience makes the strongest impression in D.C. For more than five years, NCBA has been working to educate Capitol Hill and federal agencies about the beef industry. Loneragan one of several experts NCBA has invited inside the beltway for the FDA staff briefing. NCBA has utilized this opportunity to educate about The Beef Quality Assurance Program, the cow-calf sector, the feedlot sector and now, the latest antimicrobial resistance research.

In addition to participating in the FDA Staff College, NCBA hosts a similar opportunity on Capitol Hill known as Beef 101, an education series to inform congressional staff about current issues in the U.S. cattle industry. NCBA will take advantage of any opportunity to educate policy staff to share the diversity of America’s cattle industry.