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New FDA Rule Mandates Prescriptions for Antibiotics Used for Livestock

New FDA Rule Mandates Prescriptions for Antibiotics Used for Livestock

Adding to the new challenges for ranchers and herders is a shortage of large animal veterinarians.

It appears that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a new volley in the global war against farms and food production.

Starting on June 11, 2023, livestock antibiotics that were once available over-the counter will require a veterinary prescription, thanks to a new federal rule from the FDA.

This includes both animals intended for food production and those that do not enter the food supply, such as dogs, cats, backyard poultry, pet rabbits, and pot-bellied pigs.

The new federal rule follows the FDA’s recommendation that manufacturers of medically important antimicrobial drugs that were previously available OTC and approved for use in animals (both companion and food-producing, regardless of delivery mechanism) be brought under veterinary oversight or prescription status. In 2017, OTC antibiotics used in animal feed were moved to Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), allowing closer veterinarian oversight of antimicrobial use in animal feeds. All OTC antibiotics placed in the drinking water were moved to prescription status at the same time. This new federal rule concerns the few antibiotics that remained available OTC in the form of injectables, intramammary preparations, and oral boluses.

By the June 11 deadline, the labels of all OTC antibiotics for livestock use will be required to read: “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian,” and the purchaser must have a veterinarian prescription to buy it.

While controls to ensure the chances for developing antibiotic-resistant strains and passing them onto humans are important, so is recognizing the fact that ranchers and herders have a vested interest in healthy animals and often have as much experience as a veterinarian in addressing the issues that require antibiotics.

This rule will make it more challenging for ranchers and farmers to obtain medications.

“It is going to be more difficult because you’re going to have to meet with a veterinarian or you’re going to have to have a telephone conversation with a veterinarian. She’s going to have to fill out paperwork and you’re going to have to get it done,” said John Pfeiffer, a rancher.

In the past, Pfeiffer could get over-the-counter antibiotics for his animals whenever he wanted. Now, he worries there will be times it takes too long.

“A lot of cases when calves get sick or when a cow gets sick, you’ve only got like a 12-hour window to get the antibiotic into them or you’re wasting your time,” Pfeiffer said.

The move will make antibiotics more costly and contribute to the loss of livestock.

“When animals need antibiotics, they need them and if you have to wait you’re looking at deaths that are unnecessary.” Said Craig Smith, Smith Family Farms of Louisiana owner.

This new rule not only hurts the farmers, but also the livestock.

Of course, increasing the cost of meat and dairy products while reducing the carbon footprint of livestock may be a feature instead of a bug for the Biden administration.

Potentially contributing to this problem, there is a shortage of veterinarians, especially those who would be needed to write the prescriptions for these medications.

The shortage is mirrored by a growth in the number of veterinarians that Americans are much more familiar with – those who take care of the family pet. Since at least the early 2000s, more veterinarians have chosen the better pay and more reasonable work hours that go with a practice that focuses primarily or exclusively on “companion” animals. With the COVID-19 pandemic-driven spike in pet ownership, demand – and salaries – for companion animal veterinarians have increased rapidly, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA.

The implications of this shortfall go beyond the farm. Some farmers and the AVMA warn that without enough vets, the food supply chain is vulnerable to diseases such as foot and mouth and swine flu.

“Food-animal veterinarians are a front-line defense in the surveillance, prevention, treatment, and control of animal diseases,” AVMA President Dr. Lori Teller wrote in an email to NPR. “Veterinarians help to protect the health and welfare of animals that produce eggs, milk, meat, wool, and other protein and fiber products,” she says.

Teller says that among veterinary school graduates, nearly half are choosing to work exclusively with companion animals, with another 8% selecting mixed practices, where they might treat a dog and cat one day and a cow the next. Fewer than 3% of recent graduates choose to work exclusively with food animals, with others deciding to pursue advanced degrees or go into specialties, such as horse care.

Some congressional representatives are now trying to rein in the FDA, but that is like closing the barn door after the regulatory horse has bolted.


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Nothing like a distant federal bureaucracy in DC to tell folks how to run their lives, businesses and property.

    henrybowman in reply to CommoChief. | May 27, 2023 at 4:13 pm

    Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
    –Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821.

    countryboy1947 in reply to CommoChief. | May 27, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    In 1947 when I was born my grandparents milked 15 cows by hand and separated the cream from the milk and bottled them both. Lots of people did not have cars then so there were lots of small stores around. My grandparents stocked their products in those stores. Around 1950 the state said that milk had to be pasteurized. That ended my grandparents farming business. Like then this is all about putting the money into the hands of those further up the food chain. Farmer will have to pay higher prices for meds and pay for the vets time. Just more leftist politics. My family I drink whole milk right out of the farm’s tank, not pasteurized and all the cream still on it. There is a world of difference between that and the white water that the big guys sell for $6 a gallon in your local store.

    The big money guys want the farmers to do all the work but get little of the money. This is an old story. Someday maybe these fools that make those rules will find themselves hungry. Hunger can change a guy’s political thinking pretty fast I bet. That crowd deserves it.

      CommoChief in reply to countryboy1947. | May 27, 2023 at 7:50 pm

      IMO the way for smaller outfits to achieve stability is with local co-op purchases by local consumers. Marketing and selling directly to consumers who value farm to table without so many middlemen.

Regulatory revenue.

    countryboy1947 in reply to n.n. | May 27, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    This system works good for those who have control of politicians via donations and other rewards. And they laugh at those of us that these rules harm. Their day may be coming.

DC’s attack on the food supply will continue until the world’s population drops in half.

The unelected and unaccountable “experts” at the FDA and other federal bureaucracies have WAY too much rule-making authority. SCOTUS needs to put the brakes on that effing tyranny.

    jqusnr in reply to Q. | May 27, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    why SCOTUS … congress can defund them or abolish them ,…. or limit their authority … its not a constitutional problem
    it is a congress problem …

      CommoChief in reply to jqusnr. | May 27, 2023 at 5:19 pm

      Since the FDA is, in your view, explicitly Constitutional please provide the language in the Constitution granting the power to the Federal govt to create this agency b/c I can’t seem to locate it.

When asked about the mandate, President Biden responded: “The new FDA rule does not go nearly far enough. I recommend a Veterinary Technician be required to oversee administering the drugs just as I have a registered nurse administer my Alzheimer’s meds 3 times a day.”

Heck, veterinarians don’t even need an office any more … just set up a booth in Home Depot and the pets will come to them.

That there’s a NO dogs/cats sign on the door is no bother – HD is the de facto dog park in bad weather.

    henrybowman in reply to MrE. | May 27, 2023 at 4:41 pm

    A family member works at Tractor Supply: “Heard about that a few days ago. Let’s just say someone bought a LOT of penicillin that day.”

Bitterlyclinging | May 27, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Just remember this same FDA approved the WuFlu vaccine for infants.
Unfortunately our suspicions they may all be on the take may very well be correct.

nordic prince | May 27, 2023 at 2:45 pm

Quit effing with our food supply!

Veterinarian Employment Act?

This is beyond idiotic. My cat was in a fight and got some abscesses. I called the vet, and he could see the cat “a week from Tuesday.” The cat would have been dead by then. I went to the local feed store, got a bottle of injectable penicillin, and took care of the problem. The cat was much better the next day, and recovered completely.

    henrybowman in reply to OldProf2. | May 27, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    Gee, it’s almost like waiting months for a Jetsons-style vaccine, instead of grabbing some ivermectin from the feed store and curing yourself immediately… isn’t it?

    When they introduced the Harrison Narcotics Act in 1914, they promised us it was only to guarantee purity and truth in labeling, and we bought it.


E Howard Hunt | May 27, 2023 at 4:03 pm

First they kick all of the veterinarians out of the hotels to make room for illegals. Now they add to their workload.

“Large animal veterinarians” – how fat or tall does the veterinarian need to be?

What kind of discrimination is this??

…Or did you mean: “Veterinarians for large animals?”

Excuse me, stewardess, but I speak FDA-jive: Hey. We need a new restriction to prevent another ivermectin ‘horse paste’ work-around for early treatment medication before we foist the next scamdemic upon the populace.

This is just a trial program. If drug control works with animals they may try it out on humans since human drug use is out of control. And due to the large number of drug related deaths in humans, they plan on doing something about it some day.

    henrybowman in reply to Paula. | May 27, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    Not that we ever delegated any power or authority to them even to address this problem.

    They just “assumed” it by writing an international treaty on drug use, giving them powers the constitution never did.

    Another loophole in the constitution, one that would have been closed by the Bricker Amendment, which the swamp scuttled, with Ike’s help.

So reading between the lines of Sackett v EPA; did congress explicitly express the requirement for prescriptions for animal antibiotics?

Obviously an anti-ivermectin rule.

Big Government loves Big Business and vice-versa.

This is minor to meaningless to Big operations. It kills Mom and Pop.

Are we making this a requirement for all food animals that make their way into the US food chain – from Canada, Mexico, Australia New Zealand, Brazil, and others? Or just US farmers, who are most likely to take very good care of their animals?

Congress needs to “Eliminate” and/or transfer some of these Federal agencies back to the States. The agencies should not be allowed to make up their own regulations without Congressional approval.

BierceAmbrose | May 29, 2023 at 5:27 pm

Why would treeatment for livestock need any training or knowledge to do.

As Uncle Joe said (paraphrasing): “How hard can farming be? You dig a hole. Drop in some seed. Come back later and grab the crops.” Really, how could livestock be any harder than that?”