The National Pork Producers Council has urged lawmakers not to restrict the use of antibiotics in pork production saying that they are a necessary tool to protect animal and public health. The comments were made at a congressional hearing held Wednesday.
Testifying for NPPC, Craig Rowles, a veterinarian in Carroll, Iowa, told the House Agriculture Committee’s livestock subcommittee that pork producers use antibiotics to keep their animals healthy and produce safe, nutritious pork. He said that producers work with their veterinarians to decide how, when and which antibiotics are administered.
Rowles pointed out that the U.S. pork industry has established programs – the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and the Take Care: Use Antibiotics Responsibly programs – that include principles and guidelines on antibiotic use that help protect animal and public health and animal well-being.
He said that banning certain antibiotics, as was done in Denmark, could have detrimental effects on pig mortality and even public health. He also told the committee, a ban would raise producers’ production costs by more than $700 million over 10 years.
“As a swine veterinarian, I need all the tools available to live up to my oath to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering and promote public health,” Rowles told the panel. “Legislative attempts to ban certain antibiotics will compromise the oath that every veterinarian took on his or her graduation day.”
Several bills have been introduced in Congress over the years, including ones in the current Congress sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D-Mass.), and Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-N.Y.), to prohibit the use in livestock of certain antibiotics.
“Pork producers and veterinarians have a moral obligation to use antibiotics responsibly to protect human health and provide safe food,” said Jennifer Greiner, NPPC’s director of science and technology. “Producers also have an ethical obligation to maintain the health of their pigs. Antibiotics are merely one piece to the health care system that pigs need.”