The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is voicing strong opposition to two pieces of legislation that would remove and restrict antibiotics for veterinary and farm use.

In a letter to Congress, AFBF President Bob Stallman says the bills (H.R. 1549 and S. 619) would restrict the efforts of veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers to protect the nation’s food supply and maintain herd health.

“Farmers and ranchers and the veterinarians they work with use antibiotics carefully, judiciously and according to label instructions, primarily to treat, prevent and control diseases in our flocks and herds,” he notes. “Antibiotics are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced.”

Stallman says more than 40 years of antibiotic use in farm animals demonstrates that such use does not pose a public health threat.

In fact, “recent government data shows the potential that it might occur is declining,” he adds. For example, bacteria survival through food processing and handling is decreasing, food-borne illness is down, development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals is stable and resistant food-borne bacteria in humans are declining.

“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 states. “Restricting access to these important tools will jeopardize animal health and compromise our ability to contribute to public health through food safety.”