U.S. pig farmers are not only well aware of new federal rules for on-farm antibiotic use, but already are complying. In a survey conducted by the National Pork Board last November, 95% of pig farmers surveyed said they were ready to be fully compliant by the time the rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

“The pork industry worked toward the Jan. 1 implementation date for nearly two years,” Jan Archer, National Pork Board president, said. “There was a concern that some producers would not make changes until after the date of implementation, but that does not seem to be the case.” Archer, is a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina.

“Pig farmers are committed to the substantive changes regarding antibiotic use, and many discontinued using antibiotics for growth promotion years ago, while also reviewing swine medical treatment uses of antibiotics as well,” she said.

One of the key changes to the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules is that medically important antibiotics can no longer be used for growth promotion. Today, human medically important antibiotics can only be used to treat sick animals or to prevent disease and/or control it.

Archer added that a key hurdle in complying with new FDA rules is ensuring that every producer has a defined and ongoing client relationship with a veterinarian. That can be a challenge in remote areas of the country where the nearest veterinarian is hundreds of miles away. Last month the Pork Checkoff announced a partnership with Global Vetlink of Ames, Iowa, to offer a veterinarian locator tool, which is available at pork.org/antibiotics.

“Complying with the new rules is critical to maintaining consumer trust in the high quality and safety of pork produced in the U.S.,” Archer said. “The two key elements are having an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship and ensuring that antibiotics are administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. To do so without veterinarian oversight is now illegal.

A follow-up article will look at other highlights from the survey, which is based on phone interviews with 550 producers across the country.