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Farm medicine stewardship efforts join up across the UK

Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are the latest organisations to join the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance.

29 July 2019, at 10:29am

Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are the latest organisations to join the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, strengthening the farming industry’s ability to apply clear, consistent standards of farm medicine stewardship, and particularly of antibiotics, across the whole UK.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones says the involvement in RUMA of the two meat assurance organisations – alongside that of existing members the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) – strengthens the UK’s cohesive and voluntary approach to antibiotic stewardship which has helped to deliver overall reductions of 40 percent in farm antibiotic sales so far.

Mr Jones explains: “While HCC, QMS, NFUS and UFU have been actively involved in welfare and antibiotic stewardship groups for some time, being part of RUMA will ensure greater future alignment.

“RUMA now has deep representation in all parts of the UK, at all stages of the supply chain and in every main livestock sector, which will be essential in delivering the RUMA Targets Task Force 2020 targets for antibiotic use. In turn, meeting these will help towards achieving the UK Government’s 5-year action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the supporting measures already in place in Scotland and recently announced in both Wales and Northern Ireland.

“I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of UK farm and veterinary groups continuing to take ownership of their part of the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. That we can do it with clarity and mutual support makes our efforts all the more effective.”

The UK’s voluntary approach to stewardship, working in collaboration with the UK Governments, has attracted interest from other countries; the EU’s Directorate General for Animal Health DG Sante visited in 2018 on a fact-finding mission.

Mr Jones says: “The voluntary approach, which has led to the 40-percent reduction in farm antibiotic sales over the past five years without the need for legislative change, is making progress sustainable and cost-effective. We must stay focused to ensure that we deliver what has been promised and reduce any impact UK food and farming might have on the overall burden of antimicrobial resistance now and in the future.”