Federated Farmers Submission on Antimicrobial Resistance Direction Statement for Animals and Plants, and Work Programme

Federated Farmers understands the global concern of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and also understands the risk that irresponsible use of antimicrobials in all sectors, world wide, impacts on others. We live on the planet altogether and bacteria and other organisms don’t often respect boundaries. We welcome the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) push to discover reality with regard to antimicrobial usage and AMR and to manage any risks discovered. We are in agreement that this should be a pan industry/government strategy and recommend that some urgency is required.

While we could say that New Zealand is not a high user of antimicrobials in the primary sector, we don’t actually know, given there is no formal surveillance of actual usage in the veterinary or horticulture sectors. We do have some knowledge of sales figures of antimicrobials, but these may bear little correlation with actual usage. We therefore welcome setting up a formal system to ensure that any statements are backed by scientific evidence.

We do know that our pastoral system of farming in the sheep, beef, dairy and goat sector allows for responsible antimicrobial use and that the current regulatory oversight of veterinary practice and antimicrobial use does mean that these are used appropriately. We also recommend that any proposed review of current practice (for example the use of dry cow therapy in dairy cows) should be done in consultation with the affected industry and Federated Farmers, and backed by science. Any consequential proposed change will then need to be phased in over time in order for tools to be developed that will manage the situation and to allow any on-farm change to be managed.

Federated Farmers considers that a common strategy on AMR that is both national and international is required. This will allow integrated policy and industry decisions to be made, keeping our borders open for trade.