Food and farming organisations have tripled their funding for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance in support of a new business plan to enable UK farming play its part in the global drive to reduce antibiotic use across animal and human medicine.
RUMA chair Gwyn Jones said the increase in funding, delivered through increased subscriptions from Alliance members, is indicative of the industry’s deepening commitment to work alongside the human medical community in reducing, refining and replacing use of antibiotics globally, as well as building on the successful 10% reduction in UK farm animal use in 2015.
“RUMA’s new five-year plan is focused on leadership, supporting and co-ordinating sector-led reductions in the use of antibiotics and inspiring greater levels of responsible use among farmers,” he said, adding that it was also geared to increasing awareness among policy-makers and the general public of the facts as well as challenges and achievements relating to antibiotics.
“While stewarding use of antibiotics in human medicine to reduce the risk from resistant bacteria is a pressing priority, farming has an important role to play in reducing the risk of resistance developing through the food chain.”
Mr Jones also said the biggest challenge facing farming is how to reduce animal treatment with antibiotics without compromising welfare.
“A well thought-out, science-based approach that improves natural immunity, reduces disease burden and finds different ways to manage infection is essential to protect the well-being of animals,” he said. “There is no silver bullet, however. It’s all about small incremental changes that are carefully tried and tested before implementation.”