British farmers have reduced antibiotic use by 55%

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A concerted campaign to reduce the use of antibiotics in British cattle has led to a drastic reduction.

Government officials and veterinarians alike have hailed a 55% reduction in sales of livestock antibiotics since 2014.

The government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has confirmed that usage is now the lowest on record.

The campaign followed fears that resistance to antibiotics – known as antimicrobial resistance or AMR – is on the rise, making conditions harder to treat – in humans and animals.

An annual UK-Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) report said the UK maintained effective management of antibiotics in livestock, with reductions in antibiotic use reported by pig sectors, chicken, duck and trout.

The UK remains one of the lowest users of antimicrobials in livestock in Europe and has achieved one of the largest reductions in resistance, the government has said.

Veterinary Drugs Directorate boss Abigail Seager said she was pleased with the continued progress over the past seven years.

“Our evolving monitoring programs are essential in alerting us to any emerging risks or unexpected changes. The UK’s collaborative and voluntary approach to reducing antimicrobial use in agriculture is one we are very proud of” , she said.

The UK’s chief veterinarian, Christine Middlemiss, has described antimicrobials as the cornerstone of treating infections in humans and animals.

“Using them responsibly is essential to preserve their effectiveness,” she said.

“The UK as a whole is making steady progress in reducing unnecessary antibiotic use through effective disease control measures, good agricultural practice and robust monitoring of antimicrobial resistance.”

The UK’s voluntary approach to collecting data on antibiotic use and setting targets is an example of government, industry and veterinary professionals working collectively to achieve effective antibiotic management, a she added.

Cat McLaughlin, President of the Alliance for Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA), said: “I continue to be impressed by the commitment of farmers, vets and everyone in the supply chain. food supply, and I can’t say enough praise for the work of British agriculture in its endeavours. to combat RAM.”

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said the UK is now one of the lowest users of this class of drugs in Europe.

“It is encouraging to see steady overall reductions in the sale and use of antibiotics, despite the unique challenges resulting from Brexit, rising production costs, the cost of living crisis and record number of cases. bird flu,” said Anna Judson, junior vice president of BVA. .

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