As of January 1, 2017, a new FDA regulation requires a veterinarian feed directive ("VFD") from a veterinarian be in place for all antibiotics administered to livestock in feed or water. This written vet statement authorizes the livestock's caretaker to obtain and use feed with VFD drugs to treat animals in accordance with the conditions approved or indexed by the FDA. Most injectable antibiotics already required a prescription, so they aren't affected by the new VFD. The extra-label use of medicated feed additives has not been and still will not be allowed.
What can you do to stay in compliance?
- VCPR: Producers should visit their vet to establish a "VCPR" or Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship. A VCPR means the vet works with the caretaker on a regular basis, sees the animals in question, visits the farm regularly, and is available for follow-up care.
- DOCUMENTATION: Producers should document everything and retain those records for at least two years. Conversations or transactions involving antibiotics on the VFD list should be documented. Producers should start a file for these records. These documents can be stored in electronic or hard copy format. Feed mills, suppliers, and veterinarians should also retain VFD records for two years.
- FEED MILLS: The new regulation even applies to farmers who mill or mix their own feed on-site. The on-site milling operation is required to follow VFD requirements for feed distributors. These farms should retain documentation for the receipt and distribution of all medicated feed containing VFD antibiotics.
- INSPECTIONS: Each state will designate inspectors to conduct on-farm inspections to ensure compliance with the new VFD rule. Producers should expect inspectors to review documentation, ask questions about the medicated feed distributed on the farm, and to check dosages, expiration dates, and withdrawal periods.
- COMMUNICATION: Producers should communicate regularly with their vet and feed supplier to ensure their animals are receiving the medical care they need, while complying with the new VFD rule.