AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas farmers and ranchers will soon need to obtain a veterinarian’s prescription before treating their livestock with common medications.
The Food and Drug Administration’s latest rule goes into effect June 11 and aims to stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance between animals and humans. The FDA called that “a serious threat to animal and public health” in a detailed explanation of their guidance for farmers and ranchers.
The concern, put simply, is that bacterial resistance to antibiotics could spread from livestock to humans through the meat humans consume.
“Over the last decade or so, the Food and Drug Administration has really been concerned about the transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria out of the food chain and food-producing animals back into the human medical side,” Dr. Ron Gill said, a livestock specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “There’s really not any real evidence that that’s occurring. But this is just an abundance of caution.”
The FDA has required a prescription for antibiotics administered through feed or drinking water since 2017. This rule applies to a long list of injectable antibiotics that are still available over the counter.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is concerned the rule will amount to a costly burden for farmers and ranchers.
“There’s a lot of problems,” Commissioner Miller told Nexstar on Monday. “One is it drives the cost up. The availability is limited. It’s just a pain. A real pain in the rear.”
The long-term goal, as AgriLife explains, is to both boost immunity for humans and animals while reducing the necessity to redevelop new antibiotics that outpace bacterial resistance, thus lowering costs. Gill does not predict this will have effects on the cost of food.
“The main objective is to try to maintain the effectiveness of these antibiotics long term because developing new antibiotics is increasingly more difficult or expensive,” he said. “So if we’re more judicious in how we use the existing products, hopefully we can actually drive down the cost of these products over time and not see the increase in price of livestock or food.”