Increasing interest in preventing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and protecting the effectiveness of the antimicrobials that we have has fueled the initiative behind the veterinary feed directive rule changes.
The VFD regulation changes on medically important antimicrobials used in livestock feeds, previously available as over-the-counter medications, will come into effect in January. Medically important antimicrobials used in livestock production are products that are also used to treat humans. Now is the time to make sure you have a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) so you maintain access to any products that might be more regulated under the implementation of the VFD rule changes.
A VFD product is a drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in livestock feed under veterinary supervision with a written VFD order. The new VFD rule essentially ends the use of medically important antibiotics for growth performance enhancement, limiting use to treatment, control and prevention. Under the new rule, the use of medically important drugs in feed may only be done under the supervision of a veterinarian. To be able to purchase feed with a VFD product in it, farmers will now need to have a VFD order from their veterinarian.
When the revised VFD regulations started coming into effect in October 2015, very few drugs required a VFD order. One of the biggest questions with the transition to new regulations is which drugs are impacted. Drugs that are not medically important do not need to transition to VFD status unless used in combination with a VFD drug. A list of the drugs that are transitioning from over-the-counter to requiring a VFD order can be found at goo.gl/vhxQJL. A list of drugs transitioning from over-the-counter to prescription can be found at goo.gl/6ygTW5.
The VFD rule changes bring on more paperwork for everyone. VFD orders will vary in length and use, but will not exceed six months. You will need to work closely with your veterinarian to determine how and when a VFD is needed. Farmers, veterinarians and feed suppliers are all expected to keep a copy of each VFD order for two years. If you are looking for tools to help you keep track of your VFD records, check out the recordkeeping tools available on the Wisconsin Beef Information Center website at goo.gl/RNejOq.
So what should you do now to prepare for the VFD changes being implemented in 2017? Make sure you have a veterinarian who is willing to work with you and your farm to ensure you have a valid VCPR. Talk with your veterinarian, nutritionist, Extension agent and other farm adviser professionals about practices that could be changed to help prevent the need to use certain products. Make an inventory of the antibiotic products you are currently using. Check out the two lists of drugs that are transitioning that were mentioned earlier to find out if the products you currently use will still be available to you. If they aren’t going to be available for use in 2017, talk with your veterinarian about alternatives. Consult with your veterinarian to come up with a plan for handling VFD orders, specifically asking about how “I’m out of this, and today is Saturday” orders might be handled.
Finally, make sure to have the same conversation with your feed supplier to ensure there are fewer bumps in the road to make the VFD implementation of changes smoother for everyone in 2017.
Seefeldt is the Marquette County Extension agriculture agent.