Cattlemen and Ag – Committed to Public Health

Salem, Ore. (March 16, 2017) – A strong introductory panel in objection to SB 785 took the hot seat this afternoon in the Oregon Legislature defending against a bill that would make “legislative findings regarding routine provision of antibiotics to food-producing animals and its relation to public health.” Kicking off the panel of testimonies in opposition was Oregon Cattlemen Association’s (OCA) President-Elect Nathan Jackson; he was accompanied by Ron Phillips, Vice President and Legislative and Public Affairs for the Animal Health Institute and Dr. Mark Wustenberg, DVM from Tillamook.

“While well intentioned, bills like Senate Bill 785 ignore the realities of federal law and fail to recognize that antibiotic resistance is a real problem caused by both the natural evolution of bacteria and many human activities,” stated Jackson in his testimony.

A variety of individuals pointed out the dangers of limiting antibiotic use in animals from veterinarians, agricultural associations, and even a young lady named Kydall Davis, a member of the Santiam Christian FFA Chapter. Two years ago the OCA began an effort to continuously provide education to Oregon legislators on the evolution of labeling standards by antibiotic manufacturers, the relationship between livestock owners and veterinarians, their commitment to the health of their animals, and, most importantly, the health and safety of the consumer.

Antibiotics are currently regulated in a state program with a safe preventative nature via the direction of a veterinarian. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiated efforts to promote the Judicious Use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. The result has been to eliminate the use of antibiotic for growth enhancement and feed efficiency and bringing the remaining therapeutic uses – disease treatment, control, and prevention – under veterinary oversight. The FDA Judicious Use requirement allows a consistent, federal standard that applies nationwide. Further, it recognizes that at times, antibiotics are necessary and recommended for preventative purposes to protect herd health, avoid epidemics, and limit significant financial loss for producers.

Senate Bill 785, on the other hand, creates ambiguity for Oregon producers, limits legitimate uses of antibiotics under veterinarian supervisions, and drives up regulatory costs as we try to compete with producers in neighboring states across the globe.  Further, SB 785 and the inaccurate perceptions it perpetuates about our industry does not consider the rigorous food inspection requirements for our products that ensure food does not get to market if livestock has been improperly injected with either antibiotics or steroids. To be clear, antibiotics are not used to “fatten up” animals and any such use is illegal.

The OCA, the cattle industry, and agriculture have a commitment to public health. They ask for support in helping educate the public about ag practices and debunking myths. They ask the legislators to refrain from implementing unnecessary, burdensome regulatory requirements that disadvantage Oregon’s farmers and ranchers amongst their regional and global competitors.

Pictured in feature photo is OCA President-Elect Nathan Jackson and Ron Phillips, Vice President and Legislative and Public Affairs for the Animal Health Institute.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.