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March 24, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
March 24, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Farm Bureau Federation is expressing strong opposition to legislation that would remove and restrict important antibiotics for veterinary and farm use.

In a letter to Congress, AFBF President Bob Stallman said the bills (H.R. 1549 and S. 619) would handicap veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers in their efforts to protect the nation's food supply and maintain the health of their farm animals. "Farmers and ranchers and the veterinarians they work with use antibiotics carefully, judiciously and according to label instructions, primarily to treat, prevent and control disease in our flocks and herds," Stallman said. "Antibiotics are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced."

Perry Mobley, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Beef, Equine and Hay & Forage Divisions, said the fear of antibiotic use in farm animals triggering a "superbug" in humans is unfounded.

"We've been using most of these antibiotics for 50 years or more. If we were going to cause a superbug to form, it would have already happened," said Mobley. "Veterinarians and producers must follow label directions for any drug they administer. We have quality assurance programs in place to encourage proper administration of drugs for livestock. If producers don't follow these guidelines, they could lose their quality assurance certifications; hence, they could lose their ability to market their product. There is enough oversight in place already. We don't need to lose the ability to keep animals well and alive. If we do, then we are doing the livestock a disservice."

Stallman made a similar point in his letter to Congress. "In order to raise healthy animals, we need tools to keep them healthy -- including medicines that have been approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration," Stallman wrote. "Restricting access to these important tools will jeopardize animal health and compromise our ability to contribute to public health through food safety."

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