vet and producer observing pigsAs 2017 begins, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new rules regarding on-farm use of medically important (to human health) antibiotics are now fully in effect. Even though you likely know many of the basics of the new regulations by now, it’s certainly understandable to have some remaining questions about what the FDA changes all mean and how they may affect your farm.

First, the new FDA rule ends the use of any antibiotics used for growth-promotion purposes associated with all food-animal species, including swine. This is known as Guidance 209. It also increases veterinary oversight of all remaining antibiotic uses on the farm.

“Antibiotics that are now prohibited as growth promoters are still available to treat specific health challenges,” said Lisa Becton, DVM, swine health information and research director for the Pork Checkoff. “But access now will require a licensed veterinarian, who’s familiar with the animals, to authorize a veterinary feed directive (VFD) for feed-based antibiotics or a prescription for products applied through the water.”

While certain aspects of the new regulations may affect larger farms more, the rules apply whether you have one pig for the county fair or raise many thousands each year, Becton said. The bottom line goal of FDA’s new rules is to ensure that antibiotics remain effective for people and animals alike.

“The U.S. pork industry’s support of FDA’s antibiotic strategy and oversight aligns with our goal to ensure safe food, healthy people and healthy pigs,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, North Carolina.

“We have a proud history of raising pigs in ways that go beyond animal health and that are mutually beneficial to human and environmental health,” Archer said. “Day in and day out, pork producers are committed to identifying ways to ensure responsible use of antibiotics, such as embracing the updated Pork Quality Assurance® Plus certification program.”

At the same time, antibiotics remain essential tools for veterinarians and farmers to raise healthy livestock and produce safe food. Responsible use and following FDA’s new rules are steps toward retaining those tools.

This newsletter offers answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding FDA’s new antibiotics rules. The information is compiled from the FDA, USDA’s Center of Veterinary Medicine, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and others. For more information, visit the Pork Checkoff’s Antibiotics Resource Center online at