The National Pork Board’s Pork Checkoff defined its three-point antibiotic stewardship plan in mid-2015 and recently reported what the organization has done to promote research, educate pig farmers and reach out to consumers and influential individuals during 2016.

"We were the first food-animal industry to announce our stewardship plan, which underscores that antibiotics are essential tools for veterinarians and farmers to raise healthy livestock and to produce safe food,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from North Carolina, in a press release.

2016 US pork industry activities

  • Collaborated with federal agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and veterinary and farmer organizations to look for ways to continuously improve responsible antibiotic use.
  • Introduced the “Don't Wait… Be Ready!” pig farmer awareness and education campaign.
  • Invested US$750,000 in five research areas that include defining alternative antibiotic technologies, studying the environmental fate of antibiotics and better understanding the impact of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Named a third-party panel of non-farm experts to provide objective, independent counsel on the National Pork Board's current and future research, education and communication priorities.
  • Hosted several events and presentations with key influencers and the media to shape discussion around antibiotic use in both livestock and human health.

Upcoming regulatory changes

New, more stringent FDA legislation will take effect on January 1, 2017. These rules, FDA Guidelines 209 and 213 and the Veterinary Feed Directive Rule, end the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion. The legislation also brings the use of medically important antimicrobial medicines under the direct supervision of veterinarians and dictates that the medications be used only when necessary to ensure animal health.

"America's pig farmers embrace the new FDA rules which truly change the long-standing practices of our industry," said Bill Even, National Pork Board chief executive officer, in a press release.

"We take our role as pig farmers very seriously when it comes to using antibiotics responsibly," Archer said. "Just as in human medicine with patients and doctors, we realize that pig farmers and their veterinarians are the linchpin to keeping food safe, and antibiotics effective, for future generations."

Veterinary feed directive preparation

Informational materials on the Pork Checkoff’s Antibiotics Resource Center explain how producers can prepare for the expansion of the veterinary feed directive (VFD) and the elimination of using medically important antibiotics for growth promotion.