2017 Scholarship Essay: Katie Hess
Katie Hess is a 2016 & 2017 Targeting Excellence Undergraduate Award scholarship recipient from Pennsylvania. To learn more about Katie check out her profile.
How will the VFD as it pertains to the use of antibiotics in food animal production impact producers and the perception of our industry by consumers?
The Veterinary Feed Directive, which went into effect at the beginning of this year may have significant effects on farmers and ranchers. Antibiotics that are also used in human medicine must be prescribed by a veterinarian in order to be used in the food animal industry. This forces farmers to have close relationships with their veterinarians and to keep excellent records of all treatment plans. It also means that veterinarians must be in direct communication with feed mills regarding any antibiotics that will be administered through the feed. This sounds as if it would be a hassle, and it very well might be in some situations, but I feel that it is necessary to improve the transparency of agriculture to consumers. This directive is a step in the right direction to improve the public perception of agriculture. By adhering to this directive, farmers and veterinarians can show the public that they are fully committed to being careful and responsible with the treatment of antibiotics. There are too many articles that have surfaced on the internet about farmers supposedly pumping their animals full of antibiotics to keep them producing at high levels, which is simply not true. The Veterinary Feed Directive is a way to disprove this alleged argument about today’s agriculture. Another benefit of the Veterinary Feed Directive is that it shows that we as an industry are aware of the danger of antibiotic resistance. The repeated use of antibiotics in human medicine as well as in animal agriculture has created some strains of bacteria that are incredibly resistant to antibiotics, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Microbiologists believe that it may not be too far off in the future that strains of bacteria will arise that are resistant to any current antibiotics, causing an epidemic, or even a pandemic. For these reasons, it is crucial that the Veterinary Feed Directive is adhered to by everyone involved in the food animal industry to improve the public perception of agriculture and to continue to use antibiotics responsibly and effectively.