Agriculture Column

Agriculture Column
Agriculture Article Chris Ambrose is an attorney and the owner of Harvest Legal in Emporia, Kansas. His practice consists primarily of agriculture, business, estate planning, and elder law planning. In addition, Chris works to stay on the bleeding edge of developments and advances in the legal services industry, especially when they pertain to small legal practices.

USDA/FDA Livestock Changes

USDA/FDA Livestock Changes

With every New Year comes new federal regulations, and 2017 is no different than past years. In this article I will be discussing two regulations that were poised to become active earlier this year, and what has happened to them. In this article I will be examining the 2017 updates to the Veterinary Feed Directive rule under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the new USDA Organic Animal-Welfare Standards rule.

First, let’s look to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule under the FDA. This rule is a stricter, revised rule governing how “medically important” antibiotics can be provided to animals through their feed or water. The basic guidelines for the VFD have been around since the mid-1990s, but are revised routinely into a more expansive regulation. The newest version of this rule governs all medically important antibiotics used in food or water for any food animal species.

When looking at the new regulation, the meanings of words becomes imperative to know exactly the use and reach of the regulation. The term food animal species governs any food species animal, even if that animal is not being used for food purposes by a specific individual. The requirements for the antibiotics used also important, and basically means antibiotic previously used over the counter will now be governed by a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) or prescription.

The reason provided for the expansion of this regulatory system arose over concerns about how antibiotics are used in agriculture, and the long-term effects on both human and animal health that could have long-term negative effects. By moving the administration of antibiotics from the consumer with unlimited access to over the counter antibiotics used in food or water to the more limited access of a veterinarian, the FDA hopes to limit unnecessary antibiotic use and limited the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the future.

The second regulatory attempt that needs to be examined is the USDA Organic Animal-Welfare Standards. Under this rule, USDA-Certified organic livestock and poultry operations would be required to provide a minimum indoor and outdoor space in order to maintain certification. What was thought to be the final rule governing this action was published on January 19, 2017. However, on February 7, 2017, the USDA reversed course and delayed the effective date of the rule by 60 days. This action may just be part of the action taken by the Trump administration to review any regulatory action that was started under the previous presidential administration. Additionally, this regulation has been very controversial with organic producers because many thought that the space requirements did not meet up with any real need, but were a purely political move to appease animal-rights activists.

The tales of these two different regulatory changes provide some insight into the next several years and how regulatory action will likely work within them. The Trump administration has made their disdain for regulatory action clear, so future actions like the one involving the Organic Animal-Welfare Standards should not be a surprise as we move into the future.


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