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Becca's Blog: Antibiotics, parties and policy

21st Jun 2019 / By Rebecca Veale

Last week I headed off to London for the Pig Health and Welfare Council (PHWC) Antimicrobial sub-group, one of the many groups NPA is represented at.

Veale RebeccaThere are four sub groups for the PHWC, antimicrobials, disease surveillance, food safety and welfare. It is structured this way to ensure the time is given for discussion on these very important policy areas.

Antimicrobials and their usage has been of huge interest to me for a long time (geeky I know!), so I am really pleased it is a policy area I will be responsible for at the NPA. They have dominated health and welfare discussions across the livestock sectors and the topic has hit the press consistently over the last few years; eMB, VARSS (UK veterinary sales) and ESVAC (European veterinary sales) reports all demonstrate how significant this has been in terms of reducing antibiotic usage.

The 2018 usage figures taken from eMB data (which covers 89% pigs slaughtered in the UK) show use dropped to 110mg/PCU, a 16% reduction from 2017 figures – this is really positive and reflects the efforts made by producers, vets and the wider industry. The industry targets run to 2020 so now we have started to think about the next phase.

The PHWC-AMU sub-group has taken responsibility for the pig sector targets post 2020, with Richard Lister (NPA) and Richard Pearson (PVS) representing the group at the RUMA Targets Task Force. So it is a pretty important group for us to be part of!

The next phase of targets will take some consideration, the low hanging fruit has been cut and over the next few years we have new legislation and the loss of zinc oxide to contend with, I’m not going to tempt fate by mentioning anything else.

Making sure the targets are both challenging enough and achievable is not going to be easy, but it’s great that as the NPA we’re part of the group putting them together. I look forward to sharing more antibiotics updates with you over the coming years from both this group and from RUMA.

NPA 20th group 2It has been a pleasure getting to know people from across the sector over the last four weeks. One of the best opportunities has been this week’s celebration of twenty years of the NPA; they included a book, awards, speeches and the most delicious hog roast (thank you Andrew!).

It was great to hear about some of the achievements over the last twenty years and some thoughts for the next. We’re at a time of significant change, politically and legislatively and it has never been so important for the pig sector to be represented. I have joined the NPA at a really good time, not just for the party, but this next phase of policy is going to be challenging and exciting all at the same time!

Ed and I are off to Yorkshire with Young NPA next week so I’ll let you know how we all get on…