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RUMA funding triples as alliance leads antibiotic drive

11th Jan 2017 / By Alistair Driver

RumaFunding for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance has more than tripled this year as it oversees the drive to reduce antibiotics on farms. 

The increase in funding will take the form of increased subscriptions from RUMA members, which include NPA, in support of a new five-year business plan which will help UK farming play its part in the global drive to reduce antibiotic use.

The RUMA alliance of 6 member organisations representing all stages of the animal food chain will play a big part as new long-term sector targets to reduce antibiotic use are developed during 2017.

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones said the extra funding was 'indicative of the industry’s deepening commitment to work alongside the human medical community in reducing, refining and replacing use of antibiotics globally'. He said the industry was building on the successful 10 per cent reduction in UK farm animal use recorded in 2015.

Gwyn JonesMr Jones said: “RUMA’s new five-year plan is focused on leadership, supporting and co-ordinating sector-led reductions in the use of antibiotics, inspiring greater levels of responsible use among farmers, and increasing awareness among policy-makers and the general public of the facts as well as challenges and achievements.

“While stewarding use of antibiotics in human medicine to reduce the risk from resistant bacteria is a pressing priority, farming has an important role to play in reducing risk of resistance developing through the food chain.”

Biggest challenge

Mr Jones said the biggest challenge facing farming is how to reduce animal treatment with antibiotics without compromising welfare.

He said: “A well thought-out, science-based approach that improves natural immunity, reduces disease burden and finds different ways to manage infection is essential to protect the well-being of animals. There is no silver bullet – it’s about small incremental changes that are carefully tried and tested before implementation.”

RUMA has already ramped up activities in anticipation of increased funding, including the creation of a Targets Task Force in December that will co-ordinate the different farming sectors as they identify meaningful objectives for refining their use of antibiotics.

It recently launched the www.farmantibiotics.org information website and convened the first meeting of its advisory Scientific Group this month.

The alliance has also recently welcomed the British Meat Processors’ Association and the British Trout Association as members, meaning it now spans all sectors from game to poultry, fish, cattle, sheep and pigs.

RUMA members

RUMA has formulated comprehensive guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials in livestock production. These give advice on all aspects from application and responsibilities of the farmer and vet, to strategies for reduced usage.

Its members are:

  • The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)
  • AHDB Beef and Lamb, and AHDB Pork
  • AHDB Dairy
  • The Animal Health Distributors Association (AHDA UK Ltd)
  • Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA)
  • British Egg Industry Council (BEIC)
  • The British Meat Processors Association
  • The British Poultry Council (BPC)
  • The British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  • The British Trout Association (BTA)
  • British Veterinary Association (BVA)
  • City and Guilds Land Based Services
  • Dairy UK
  • The Game Farmers’ Association (GFA) 
  • LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming)
  • The National Beef Association (NBA)
  • National Farmers’ Union (NFU)
  • NOAH (National Office of Animal Health)
  • The National Pig Association (NPA)
  • National Sheep Association (NSA)
  • NFU Scotland
  • Red Tractor Assurance (RTA)  
  • The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF)
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
  • The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO)

It addition, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) act as observers.

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