UPDATE: Md. House and Senate pass antibiotics, livestock bill

Md. House and Senate pass antibiotics, livestock bill

Both the Maryland state House and Senate have passed two bills prohibiting routine antibiotic use in livestock.

The "Keep Antibiotics Effective Act", introduced by Senator Paul Pinksy, bans the routine use of medical antibiotics in food-producing animals as a preventive measure. It can be still used to treat sick livestock.

Sponsors of the act say it is a response to the threat of super-bugs growing resistant to antibiotics.

The CDC estimates that 23,000 Americans die annually as a result of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Some opponents, including the Maryland Farm Bureau, have criticized the bills as "unnecessary" and a duplicate to federal regulations already in place; however, Senator Pinksy tells 47ABC a number of amendments have been made to reach a compromise.

The original bill as drafted required reporting usage to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. According to Pinksy. those requirements have been scaled back to offer more leniency.

"To be honest, I still have some concerns about the reporting requirement," he says. "There are large gaps in what the federal government requires and we want to be able to track use of antibiotics is going down and they were very resistant to that."

Colby Ferguson, Director of Government Relations at the Maryland Farm Bureau, says they are appreciative of both the House and Senate for understanding of Maryland farmers being allowed to continue to offer proper animal husbandry and care to livestock and poultry.

However, Ferguson argues the amendments added did not remove the language which addresses the potential overuse and possible misuse of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry.

"Just like in the California and Federal Laws, using medically important antibiotics for growth promotion, feed efficiency and routine, continuous use for disease prevention have been removed with this bill," he says in a statement. "The amendments added were to allow a farmer to use them for a limited period of time and under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to prevent their animals from getting sick during those very vulnerable times in their life, such as when the pigs and calves are being weaned off their mothers."

If approved by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the law would make Maryland the second state in the U.S. to prohibit routine antibiotic use in livestock.  California passed similar legislation restricting use on farm animals in 2015.

Categories: Local News, Maryland