THE grainfed beef industry has stepped up its commitment to antimicrobial stewardship by announcing that its world-leading antimicrobial guidelines will become mandatory for lotfeeding from January.
The move is a significant milestone undertaken to further elevate Australia’s position as global leaders when it comes to antimicrobial stewardship and the commitment to responsible use of antimicrobials.
Australian Lot Feeders Association president Bryce Camm said the industry was proud to continue its stewardship journey by formalising the guidelines as being mandatory from 2022.
“The emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a relatively new global frontier, but one that the Australian red meat and livestock industry recognised some time ago, when in 2018 Australia’s feedlot industry became one of the first in the world to launch formal guidelines to minimise the risks around resistance,” Mr Camm said.
“In any new process implementing new practices can take time, however, with two out of three feedlot operators voluntarily adopting the guidelines, we felt it was the right time to move towards getting 100pc participation,” he said.
From 1 January, the guidelines will become an auditable requirement of the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme, the cattle feedlot industry’s critical oversight and compliance program independently managed by AUSMeat, Australia’s agricultural auditing and certification body.
Mr Camm said that with most feedlots having taken up the guidelines voluntarily, the decision to include them within the NFAS ensured that all feedlot operators across Australia will operate and comply with a stewardship plan, to be assessed through independent annual audits conducted by AUSMeat.
“Stewardship is a key action industry can take to preserve the efficacy of these medicines and help prevent the emergence of resistance and importantly ensure we can continue to access these important tools into the future,” Mr Camm said.
While Australia was already recognised for having the highest quality beef in the world, incorporating the guidelines into NFAS would further underpin confidence in Australian product while also helping livestock producers and lotfeeders manage the health and welfare of cattle.
“In addition to promoting the adoption of stewardship practices, the industry supports improved monitoring of use and surveillance of resistance to help inform policy and practice which is part of the broader strategy to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance,” Mr Camm said.
In 2015, the Federal Government released Australia’s First National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015–2019. It was closely aligned with the World Health Organisation’s Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, and provided a national framework for a coordinated cross-sectoral response to the risk of antimicrobial resistance.
In response, the cattle feedlot industry identified antimicrobial stewardship as one of six priority areas for industry to work on in the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework in 2017.
At the same time, the Australian Lot Feeders Association, and MLA invested grainfed levies to develop the Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines for the feedlot industry.
The guidelines provide a continuous improvement framework that help lotfeeders understand and continue to ensure appropriate use of antimicrobials and therefore reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. At its core, the guidelines involve five stewardship principles which are collectively termed the ‘5Rs’: responsibility, review, reduce, refine and replace.
The guidelines are being included as a requirement of the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme, which has been in operation in the Australian feedlot industry for more than 25 years. NFAS was the first Quality Assurance program to be developed for Australian agriculture and is independently managed by AUSMeat.
Australian feedlot operators responded positively with 62pc of all NFAS audited feedlots indicating in 2021 that they had voluntarily adopted an Antimicrobial Stewardship Plan within their operations, up from 59pc in 2020 and 39pc in 2019.
With the endorsement of AUSMeat and the NFAS Feedlot Industry Accreditation Committee earlier this year, the NFAS rules and standards have been updated and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines will become an auditable requirement of the Scheme from 1 January 2022.
The guidelines were developed by a consortium of leading veterinarians and scientists. The team included:
- Dr Stephen Page, Advanced Veterinary Therapeutics, a world leader in promoting Veterinary Antimicrobial Stewardship principles to veterinary industries
- Professor Darren Trott, Professor of Veterinary Microbiology with the University of Adelaide, who has worked across humans, companion animals and production animals to understand best practice use of antimicrobials.
- Industry veterinarian Dr Kev Sullivan, Bell Veterinary Services, who was instrumental in ensuring the guidelines were fit for purpose in the Australian context.