On Jan. 1, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations addressing on-farm antibiotic use in food-animal production went into effect. This effort was aimed at eliminating the use of medically important (to human illness) antibiotics for growth promotion purposes in food-animal production and bringing therapeutic use in feed and water – to treat, control or prevent specific disease – under additional veterinary oversight. Producers, veterinarians, feed mills and suppliers, all faced new requirements under this rule:

Guidance 209

In 2010, FDA outlined its intent and recommendations regarding growth promotion uses of medically important antibiotics in food animal production. FDA also specified that veterinarian oversight will increase for the remaining therapeutic applications (prevention, treatment and control) of medically important antibiotics. This action applies to both feed-grade and water-based antibiotics.

Guidance 213

On Dec. 11, 2013, FDA initiated a three-year transition process to complete its food-animal antibiotic strategy. This action requests animal-health companies to outline intentions to voluntarily remove any production/growth promotion uses from product labels of medically important antibiotics. The guidance also eliminates the over-the-counter status of these medications and increases veterinary oversight for on-farm therapeutic use by requiring a veterinary feed directive (VFD) for feed applications and a prescription for water treatments. Jan. 1, 2017, is when implementation must be completed.

Final VFD Rule

On June 3, 2015, FDA announced the final VFD rule. The final rule outlines specific requirements of the VFD process for medically important (to treat human infections) feedgrade antibiotics.


The implementation of the FDA’s regulations, including the VFD in the swine industry, has gone extremely well; however, we recognize that questions may still arise from time to time. For more detailed information on the VFD, as well as frequently asked questions (FAQs), please use these resources:

Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) VFD

Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) VFD FAQs

American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) FAQs