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“Britain must not go backward on antibiotic controls to appease US trade deals” – Jim Moseley, CEO of Red Tractor

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 An industry-wide collaborative effort on improving antibiotic stewardship in farm animals has seen a 40% reduction in use in the last 5 years already, complementing the global ‘One Health’ strategy.

US trade officials slammed EU antibiotic farm rules – which the UK observes and includes a ban on use of antibiotics as growth promoters – stating the Trump administration plans to push back hard against rules during any negotiations.*

Jim Moseley says, “We are extremely proud of the role that assurance standards have played, in conjunction with many other agencies, in meeting EU standards but also supporting the UK’s ambitions to deliver these big reductions in antibiotic usage. 

“Red Tractor shopper research shows that the British consumer is concerned about the use of antibiotics and Red Tractor standards reflect this, with some of the most stringent rules in the UK for recording and restricting use, covering upwards of 85% of the pig, cattle and sheep sectors.

“We are proud of the magnitude of work undertaken by farmers so they can carry the Red Tractor logo. We produce food to excellent standards at a price that consumers can afford and we don’t want our shoppers to have to purchase imported products produced to lower or no standards. We want to ensure that we remain ahead of the world rather than having our first-class standards eroded.” 

Several years’ work behind the scenes, driven by multi-agencies, EU legislation and the farming industry themselves, has driven meaningful change, especially with poultry and pigs industries that have led the way.

In pig production, for example, Red Tractor Assurance Standards requires farmers to upload their antibiotic usage every quarter onto the AHDB Electronic Medicines Book (eMB) which records all on-farm usage of antibiotics in one easily accessible place, ready for producers and their vets to review. eMB also allows producers to benchmark their antibiotic use on their farm(s) against anonymised data from similar units. It’s a great tool for farmers and vets which can help to encourage responsible reduction.

Gwyn Jones, RUMA Chairman, says, “Red Tractor plays a crucial role in lessening the reliance of farmers on medicines in the UK. Its huge reach – covering the vast majority of the country’s livestock farms – means it is ideally placed to support change, whether that be data collection or good stewardship.”

“The UK farming industry has already achieved reductions of 40% in sales of antibiotics over the past five years [**] and is one of the lowest users of antibiotics in Europe.”

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