While shoppers may be counting down the days till Christmas, veterinarians and cattle producers are preparing for the first day of January when new federal rules go into effect on the use of antibiotics in feed.
A group of faculty members from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine has been spending the past year reaching out to provide information about the Veterinary Feed Directive being issued by the Food and Drug Administration.
“We have had the opportunity to be present at state veterinary continuing education meetings as well as meetings with producers and feed manufacturers and distributors,” said Michael Apley, professor of production medicine and clinical pharmacology. “These sessions have helped us all get to the same page on the rules and how we can work together to make the transition as smooth as possible. It isn’t very often that I don’t come home with another question to submit to the FDA for clarification.”
Other faculty members in the college and at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have also accumulated considerable mileage by reaching out: Dan Thomson, Jones professor of production medicine and epidemiology; Brian Lubbers, director of clinical microbiology; and Gregg Hanzlicek, director of production animal field investigations. Each has made presentations and spoke at regional meetings in Kansas, New York, Georgia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Oklahoma.
Lubbers said veterinarians have a key role in the regulation change.
“The revisions to the Veterinary Feed Directive that go into effect January 2017 are the most significant changes to drug use regulations the veterinary profession has experienced for more than 20 years,” he said. “Veterinarians will now have to authorize all use of in-feed antibiotics in food animals.”
Veterinary practitioners have also sought out these faculty members and invited them to speak in their local communities. Recently, Hanzlicek spoke in Stockton, along with the local veterinarian and K-State alumnus Craig Iwanski, who owns Central Veterinary Services with his wife, Jessica Iwanski. Both graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996.
“Our meeting was well attended, and the information Dr. Hanzlicek provided will only enhance the understanding of the Veterinary Feed Directive rules,” Craig Iwanski said. “We appreciate his willingness to present at our meetings as an authority on this subject.”
Thomson said that once the new rules are implemented, the roles of faculty and practicing veterinarians may be reversed.
“The practitioners who will actually be doing it will be teaching us in academia on how it works in the real world,” he said.
“The upside of these meetings is the contact we have with the veterinarians and producers,” Apley said. “These interactions ground us and help us better understand what we need to do to serve producers and veterinarians in Kansas and in the United States. Around July, I had a naïve view that by Jan. 1, we would all be ready to go. It’s clear now that there are so many nuances about putting the Veterinary Feed Directive in place and how we apply it, that it will take a couple of years to work through the details of the multiple situations in which medically important antibiotics are used in the feed.”
In addition the personal visits and meetings, the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University has recently collaborated with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension to develop a new website, VFDInfo.org, which houses educational modules specific to producers, feed mill operators, veterinarians and distributors.