Antibiotics are a necessary tool to protect animal health, stated National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) representatives as they urged legislators in a congressional hearing not to restrict their use in pork production.

Testifying in late September, Craig Rowles, a veterinarian and partner with Elite Pork Partnership, Carroll, IA, told the House livestock subcommittee that pork producers judiciously use antibiotics to keep animals healthy and produce safe, nutritious and quality pork.

Rowles commented that two pork industry initiatives – the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Take Care: Use Antibiotics Responsibly – include principles and guidelines on antibiotic use that help protect animal and public health and animal well-being.

Banning certain antibiotics, as was done in Denmark, could have a detrimental impact on pig mortality and even public health, he says.

And Rowles told the committee a ban would raise producers’ production costs by more than $700 million over 10 years. a number of bills have been introduced in Congress over the years, including current legislation sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) to prohibit the use of certain antibiotics in livestock.