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Start of the systematic recording of antibiotics used in livestock fattening

Introduction of a new procedure for minimising antimicrobial use

From 1 July 2014 onwards, farms keeping cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys for fattening purposes must record how often their animals are treated with antibiotics. Thus, the 16th Act amending the Act on Trade in Pharmaceutical Products (German Drug Act) has now finally entered into force.

The amendment is aimed at gradually reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock farming. The new regulations enable the supervisory authorities to assess the frequency of antibiotic therapy on a farm and to make a comparison with other farms. The animal keeper can, on this basis, be required to carry out necessary checks and take the action required.

For Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt, today marks the beginning of minimising the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry: "Today marks a turning point. The system of recording and drawing comparisons that will be practised as of today is intended to help minimise the use of antibiotics to what is necessary from a therapeutic viewpoint. This is and remains our goal. The minimisation concept will also have a positive impact on livestock farming. I am firmly convinced that the rules will benefit everybody in the end: animals, consumers, animal keepers and veterinarians."

The amendment to the Drug Act establishes a new system for the nationwide minimisa-tion of the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. Animal keepers will henceforth be required to report to the competent authority every six months on what antibiotics they have administered to which animals in this period and in what quantities. The reports must be made to the competent authorities by 14 January 2015 at the latest. After the federal state (Länder) authorities and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety have analysed the data, a nationwide so-called "farm-specific biannual therapeutic frequency" will be determined by 31 March 2015. If a farm's individual index exceeds the federal average, the animal keepers and veterinarians will have to jointly identify the causes and take steps to curb antibiotic use. If a farm's index is among the highest twenty-five percent, the animal keepers will, after having consulted the veterinarians, have to draw up a written plan of measures to cut antimicrobial use and submit this plan to the competent authority.

This new reporting and control system grants the Länder authorities in charge of veteri-nary drug monitoring far greater powers. Animal keepers can be required by the compe-tent supervisory authority to make changes in husbandry, animal feeding, stocking den-sity or hygiene. If the animal keepers fail to make the reports or observe the orders, fines may be imposed. The authority may, as a last resort, order the temporary suspension of animal husbandry. The rules stipulated in the amendment to the Drug Act thus also impact on animal husbandry systems.

German Antibiotics Resistance Strategy "DART"

The German Antibiotics Resistance Strategy "DART" was launched in 2008. The main aim of this joint strategy by the Federal Ministry for Health, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is to reduce and curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Germany. DART is currently being revised.

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