US President Donald Trump has hinted that a generous free trade deal with the United Kingdom may be in the pipeline. With Britain facing into the troubling business of leaving the European Union without a free trade deal in place and the United States looking to export great amounts of agricultural produce each year, a deal of such nature could prove to be of great benefit to both. Having been at the forefront of combating the use of growth-promoting hormones in beef over recent years, it is expected that the UK may be discouraged by the recent WTO ruling that the EU ban on hormone-treated beef was illegal. Another barrier to any potential deal would be compulsory country-of-origin labeling, with the dedication of British consumers to UK-origin beef creating a price gap of up to €200 per head as compared with similar beef.
Stricter guidelines for the Veterinary Feed Directive came into effect on January 1st of this year in the United States. Because of rule changes, meat producers will be required to get authorization from a veterinarian to buy medically important antibiotics and administer them to food animals through food and drinking water. Tightening VFD is rooted in efforts by the FDA to promote more cautious use of antibiotics in food animals, with specific focus on reducing use of antibiotics as growth promoters. One would hope the EU will be encouraged by these positive strides and follow up strongly on draft plans voted on last year by MEP’s to update EU law on veterinary medicines, advocating a ban on collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals while backing measures to stimulate research into new medicines.
The British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) have issued recommendations to aid farmers in reducing the use of medically important antibiotics on their beef animals. Through guidelines prepared by Dr Elizabeth Berry, the official position taken and made clear by the BCVA is that an individual herd health plan adopting appropriate disease control measures remains key in improving upon the 10% reduction of antibiotic use on British farms. The prophylactic use of antibiotics is to be avoided when possible, with vaccination and improved animal husbandry encouraged. RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald has welcomed the confirmation of this official position, commending the BCVA’s work to this point while adding that more needs to be done. VirtualVet very much agree with Mr Fitzgerald, and look forward to future action from the BCVA and others.