WASHINGTON, April 20, 2016 - The Agriculture spending bill would provide USDA $9.9 million to start monitoring antibiotic resistance on farms, a key part of the Obama administration’s plan to preserve the effectiveness of the drugs in human medicine. A key to getting the money in the bill was to assure producers that the information collected from participating farms won’t be used for regulatory purposes and will be kept confidential.

Those assurances are spelled out in report language that was included with the bill. The committee report also calls on USDA researchers to keep separate the data for antibiotics that are used in human medicine and those that are not. Ionophores, for example, are widely used in cattle feed to increase feed efficiency but aren’t given to humans.

Members of the National Pork Producers Council are actually lobbying lawmakers for the funding this week. NPPC spokesman David Warner said the group was pleased the information would be collected under requirements of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act. That’s supposed to ensure that the individual producer can’t be identified.

Karin Hoelzer, a veterinarian who works on antibiotic policy for the Pew Charitable Trusts, said the on-farm monitoring would be a “huge step forward.” There are now only “very limited data on how antibiotics are used on farms,” she said.


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