Veterinary Feed Directive Final Rule

New rule could impact West Texas cattle producers.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration introduced a final rule that regulates the use of veterinary feed directive animal drugs in or on animal feed under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

For many years, the FDA has worked to change how antibiotics can be used in feed and water for food-producing animals. This new rule heavily impacts veterinarians and producers. The rule requires veterinarians to write a prescription for each individual animal.

Steven Ebeling, a cattle producer from Plainview, Texas, said he is choosing to be optimistic about the new requirements.

“If this makes the consumer trust us producers more, then it is well worth all the extra paperwork and time,” Ebeling said.

Before this rule was passed, most antibiotics used in or on animals were available to producers over-the-counter without any approval or prescription from a veterinarian. Producers now have to obtain a written prescription from a licensed veterinarian before providing any animals with antibiotics that are covered under the VFD program. This rule creates more paperwork for the veterinarians and the producers.

Debby Pager, a veterinarian from Amarillo, Texas, said she understands the importance of the new rule and appreciates the FDA for their dedication to ensuring a safe product goes to the consumers.

“Somewhere along the way, advocates for agriculture let their voices be muted and now we have to make sure we advocate animal safety,” Pager said. “I came from a generation where advocating for agriculture wasn’t a priority, now it is a necessity.”

Pager said there is a lot of discussion about what is safe, and she thinks it is essential consumers know everything she does as a vet is safe. She said producers are always concerned about the well-being of their livestock, but the consumer does not always know that or get to see that.

She said veterinarians play a vital role in the health of food-producing animals and now their role just became even more important.

“I am thankful for the FDA and their dedication to making this industry more transparent,” Pager said.

Ebeling said this new rule could impact producers, consumers and veterinarians in a positive way if they want to see it that way.

“Anytime we can make the food supply safer, we are taking a step in the right direction,” Ebeling said.