Task force meets to begin developing post-2020 antibiotic targets

A task force reconvened by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance to start defining new post-2020 antibiotic targets for farmed animals has met for the first time.

NPA chairman Richard Lister and Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) president Richard Pearson will represent the pig sector on a task force, which was initially set up in 2016 to identify targets for antibiotic use in UK farm livestock.

RUMA said with each sector was now on track to meet most of the targets set by the original Targets Task Force in time for the 2020 deadline, attention is now turning to the aims for UK farmers and their veterinary surgeons beyond that point.

The pig sector has made huge strides in recent years, progressing from a 2015 baseline average usage figure of 278mg/PCU to a 2018 figure of 110mg/PCU, according to figures collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB). The sector is, therefore, well on track to achieve the 2020 industry target of 99 mg/PCU.

Mr Lister said: “The industry has made fantastic progress so far, which is a tribute to the collective work and drive of producers, vets and others across the sector.

“But we now need to look beyond 2020 at what more can be achieved, while ensuring we retain antibiotics as a vital tool to maintain pig health and welfare, where necessary.

“It will become tougher to achieve further reductions, but there is scope. Lots of businesses and individual have reduced antibiotic use to very low levels, while managing to sustain performance. Others still have more to do and this is largely where our focus will be.”

The new Targets Task Force comprises:

  • Beef: Mark Jelley (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Dairy: Paul Tompkins (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Calves: Hannah Dyke (producer), Richard Cooper (vet)
  • Pigs: Richard Lister (producer), Richard Pearson (vet)
  • Sheep: Charles Sercombe (producer); Fiona Lovatt (vet)
  • Salmon: Iain Berrill (representing producers), members of the Salmon Prescribing Group (vets)
  • Trout: Oliver Robinson (producer), Peter Scott (vet)
  • Gamebirds: Paul Jeavons (producer), Will Ingham & Isy Manning (vets)
  • Poultry meat: Tom Wornham (producer), Daniel Parker (vet)
  • Laying hens: Paul McMullin (vet)
  • Observers: Clive Brown (AHDB), James Russell (BVA), Paul Cook (FSA), Donal Murphy (NOAH), Georgina Crayford (Red Tractor) and Fraser Broadfoot (VMD).

The first meeting took place on September 10, and the group is due to meet next in February 2020 to gauge progress. As before, the British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency, National Office for Animal Health, Red Tractor and Veterinary Medicines Directorate will be observers, with levy board AHDB also joining this time.

The new post-2020 targets will be agreed and reported before the end of next year.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.