Farmers playing their part in the fight against antibiotic resistance, says UFU

Monday, 30 October, 2017

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it’s a major achievement for the agriculture industry to have reduced antibiotic usage in livestock by 27 per cent, as well as record low sales in 2016, two years ahead of a government target. UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt says, “This is a good news story and shows that farmers are fully committed to playing their part in the fight against antibiotic resistance. It is an issue for both human and animal health and it is in everyone’s interest that these medicines remain effective.”

The comments were made following the publication of a report by the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

The UFU is reviewing the full report in more detail but Mr Chestnutt welcomed that in 2016, sales of antibiotics considered critically important for human health accounted for less than 1% of all antibiotics sold for use in animals. The poultry sector reduced antibiotic usage by 71 per cent between 2012 and 2016 and virtually eliminated the use of critically important antibiotics. “Farmers and vets are to be commended for what they have achieved but everyone recognises that there is more work to be done,” says Mr Chestnutt.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), which the UFU is a member of, have announced targets for further reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use across eight livestock sectors. Mr Chestnutt says, “Farmers are up to the challenge. We have already shown our commitment and we will continue to work with government and industry partners to tackle this important issue.”