The bill, introduced by US Senator Jerry Hill, prohibits meat producers from routinely using medically important antimicrobials in livestock unless they have a prescription from a veterinarian to treat a disease or infection or to prevent disease provided the use is not routine.
The law takes effect on January 1 of 2018 and means California will have the toughest limits to date on the overuse of antibiotics in livestock in the US.
Producers or veterinarians caught violating the ruling would be subject to a fine of up to $250 a day for the period of violation. Each subsequent incident could include a $500 per day fine.
The legislation, when in place, also requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture to gather information on the use of such drugs in meat production to track how they are being used.
However the ruling does allow for the prophylactic use of medically important antimicrobials.
Justin Oldfield, vice president of governmental affairs for the California Cattlemen’s Association, said the trade group supported the requirements of the bill regarding the prophylactic use of antibiotics because it codifies that prevention is a valid use. “That is a positive thing about the bill,” he added.
That association had requested the bill not take effect until 2018 as a way to give rural producers times to establish the veterinary relationships needed for that change and medical access points especially in emergency situations.
Noelle Cremers, policy specialist with the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), said that group also welcomed the fact that the bill allows for preventative use of antibiotics.
“Treating preventively is extremely important and can save animals from suffering and save animals lives, and we’re pleased to see that was recognized,” she said.
Moreover, she said the CFBF said it was pleased to see the emphasis on monitoring antibiotic resistance, instead of only focusing on use.
“The governor and the author of the bill have been interested California taking a leadership role in antibiotic resistance (monitoring) and this bill does that,” added Cremers.
A copy of the legislation is available here.