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Overview of This Week’s Pig Industry News

16 April 2012, at 11:13pm

ANALYSIS – US has taken its first step towards reducing antimicrobial use in food-producing animals, writes Jackie Linden. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a voluntary initiative for labelling and use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock; the agency has invited comments on its proposal. A Kansas State University study is helping to refine the estimates for actual antibiotic use by product type and purpose as an alternative to headline–grabbing gross amounts. Detectable levels of antibiotics were found in some samples of distillers products used for animal feeds in a new study from the US. The European Union breeding herd was five per cent lower in December 2011 than a year previously, while production, exports and average margins were up from 2010.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced a voluntary initiative on antimicrobial use in the US. The agency announced that it is taking three steps to protect public health and promote the judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals. A voluntary initiative for labelling and use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock is proposed.

The agency is proposing a voluntary initiative to phase in certain changes to how medically important antimicrobial drugs are labelled and used in food-producing animals. FDA says it is taking this action to help preserve the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobials for treating disease in humans.

FDA has issued three documents that will help veterinarians, farmers and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously in food-producing animals by targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems. Under this new voluntary initiative, certain antibiotics would not be used for so-called ‘production’ purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. These antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.

FDA is inviting comments on its proposals until 12 July.

Still on the subject of antibiotic use in the US pig industry, a Kansas State University study has helped to establish the actual use of in–feed antibiotic use.

Based on data from three companies, the study classified the results by both use category – growth promotion, disease prevention and disease therapy – and by the importance to human medicine as defined by the FDA. The team grouped the results in this manner to better inform the discussion on food animal antibiotic use.

Lead researcher, Professor Apley, commented: “Gross tonnage estimates of overall use serve us little other than as sound bites.“

In an analysis of European Union farm incomes, high prices to the end of 2011, coupled with a fall in cereal prices, have brought theoretical pig producer margins back to the five-year average.

The pig meat sector continued to concentrate in fewer hands and the European sow herd reduced 'slightly', according to the Brussels agriculture department. The total sow herd fell nearly five per cent. The new analysis notes that the increasing trend in production continued in 2011, with the total production up 1.7 per cent.

With regard to exports, 2011 was an exceptional year as, for the first time ever, the EU exported more than three billion tonnes of pig meat, an increase of over 20 per cent against 2010 and representing nearly 12 per cent of the domestic production.

Average EU carcass price in 2011 was €153.20 per 100kg, €13 per 100kg ( 310.70/100kg) more than the year before.

US pork exports continue on an upward trajectory. Pork export volume (187,629 metric tons) was nine per cent higher in February 2012 than in the same month last year, while value ($526.2 million) was up 21 per cent. For the first two months of the year, pork exports totalled 399,086 tonnes valued at $1.09 billion – increases of 18 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively. This is the first time US pork export value has reached the $1 billion mark after only two months.

FDA has released a report on antibiotic residues in distillers products, such as DDGS. Four of the 46 samples of distillers’ grains tested were quantifiable in the laboratory for one or more of 12 antibiotics. The information will be used for the development of future policy rather than regulation, says FDA.