A task force set up by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance in 2016 to identify targets for antibiotic use in UK farm livestock has been refreshed, and convened in a kick-off meeting to start defining new goals post-2020.
With each sector now on track to meet most of the targets set by the original Targets Task Force in time for the 2020 deadline, attention is turning to the aims for UK farmers and their veterinary surgeons beyond that point.
Chris Lloyd, secretary general of RUMA, says that many of the ‘easier battles’ on reducing antibiotic use have now been won, making the next phase of target-setting more complex but just as important.
“With some sectors now at, or fast approaching, lowest potential use without risking animal health and welfare or food safety, I think we will see far more focus on ways to demonstrate the quality of management, and the health and welfare of the animal,” says Mr Lloyd.
He adds that new iteration of the Targets Task Force has 10 livestock groups rather than the eight in the last initiative. “Calves have been introduced as a particular area of interest because of the way they span the dairy and beef sectors, and the fish sector has been split into salmon and trout species.”
The first meeting took place on 10 September, and the group is due to meet next in February 2020 to gauge progress. As before, the British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency, National Office for Animal Health, Red Tractor and Veterinary Medicines Directorate will be observers, with levy board AHDB also joining this time. The new post-2020 targets will be agreed and reported before the end of next year.
The new Targets Task Force comprises:
- Beef: Mark Jelley (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
- Dairy: Paul Tompkins (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
- Calves: Hannah Dyke (producer), Richard Cooper (vet)
- Pigs: Richard Lister (producer), Richard Pearson (vet)
- Sheep: Charles Sercombe (producer); Fiona Lovatt (vet)
- Salmon: Iain Berrill (representing producers), members of the Salmon Prescribing Group (vets)
- Trout: Oliver Robinson (producer), Peter Scott (vet)
- Gamebirds: Paul Jeavons (producer), Will Ingham & Isy Manning (vets)
- Poultry meat: Tom Wornham (producer), Daniel Parker (vet)
- Laying hens: Paul McMullin (vet)
- Observers: Clive Brown (AHDB), James Russell (BVA), Paul Cook (FSA), Donal Murphy (NOAH), Georgina Crayford (Red Tractor) and Fraser Broadfoot (VMD).
The original Targets Task Force was formed in 2016 in the wake of the Government-commissioned O’Neill Review on antimicrobial resistance, and went on to successfully define sector-specific targets which were announced at the end of 2017.
The wholesale industry engagement with these voluntary targets and the collaborative nature of the way Government and industry have worked together is unique globally, and has attracted interest from a number of other countries as well as from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety DG Sante.
The Targets Task Force initiative also won the hotly contested Prescribing and Stewardship category at Public Health England’s Antibiotic Guardian Awards in 2018.