Research Priorities Laid Out for Antimicrobial Use in Beef Cattle

There’s no doubt concerns around antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are growing. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the States sees at least “2 million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.”

In response to these concerns, the federal government released Antimicrobial Resistance and Use in Canada: A Federal Framework for Action in October, 2014. The framework outlines commitments to strengthening surveillance systems, improving the responsible use of antimicrobials, and supporting AMR research and innovation. The commitments all have a shared focus, to cover both human medicine and animal agriculture.

Today, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), and the National Beef Value Chain Roundtable announced the development of a National Beef Antimicrobial Research Strategy, to help guide the industry in making use of funding dollars dedicated to AMR research.

“There’s no doubt antimicrobial resistance, use and their alternatives are a high priority in terms of policy, research, and regulations,” said Tim Oleksyn, a cow-calf producer from Shellbrook, Saskatchewan and Chair of the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC). “It is important for the industry to have a comprehensive strategy with clearly defined outcomes to ensure every research dollar helps make progress in addressing human health and public confidence concerns, while also ensuring animal welfare and industry sustainability are maintained.”

According to a release sent out by the BCRC, research priorities and outcomes defined in the Strategy include:

  • Antimicrobial Resistance – focused on ensuring evidence-based decision making and communication to the veterinary, producer and medical communities, expanding surveillance within the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS), and pilot projects to monitor antimicrobial resistance in different cattle production systems.
  • Antimicrobial Use – focused on ensuring that Canada’s beef industry continues to have access to antimicrobials to protect animal health and welfare by developing a database to quantify, monitor and defend responsible antimicrobial use practices in cow-calf, feedlot, dairy and veal production.
  • Antibiotic Alternatives – focused on developing a broader set of tools for disease management including cost-effective alternative production practices, diagnostic tests, nutritional management strategies and vaccines that reduce the need for treating production limiting diseases in beef cattle.

“The beef industry has a responsibility and an opportunity to help guide and direct valuable investments intended to help protect the effectiveness of antimicrobials,” said Oleksyn. “By collaborating with research funders and other major stakeholder groups, we can achieve the most meaningful outcomes relevant to both the beef industry and the Canadian public.”

The Strategy was formed as part of the upcoming National Beef Research Strategy renewal, with recommendations made during a workshop held in December.

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