Beef Issues Quarterly Archive

Antibiotics Q&A with BQA Advisory Board Chairman, Dan Kniffen, PhD


by Chase DeCoite, Associate Director, Beef Quality Assurance, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff
Dr. Dan Kniffen and his wife, Dr. Ann Swinker, operate Windy Butte Ranch-Kniffen Livestock in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. The 35 head cow-calf and seed stock operation specializes in purebred Hereford cattle.
Off the farm, Kniffen works as an Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences at Penn State, serving as the Beef Specialist. His wife, Ann, is the Extension Horse Specialist at Penn State and an Associate Professor of Equine Science. Kniffen has or also serves on the Pennsylvania Beef Council Board of Directors, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association. He is County Farm Bureau Policy Development Chair and is the Past President; he is also the chairman of the National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Advisory Board.
Beef Issues Quarterly (BIQ):  What changes are happening regarding antibiotics moving forward?
Dan Kniffen (DK):  As you’ve probably heard the FDA has released two Industry Guidances that go into effect January 1st, 2017. Guidance for Industry (GFI) #209 limits the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs used in feed and water for animals to the following uses:
  • Those considered necessary for assuring animal health (therapy, prevention, and control) and NOT for feed efficiency or growth promotion;
  • Veterinary oversight or consultation.
Guidance for Industry #213 defines how this will be implemented. First, drug sponsors will change drug labels to remove any production or growth claims by December 31, 2016.  With the label changes it will no longer be legal to use the medically important antibiotics in feed/water for feed efficiency; therapeutic uses will be maintained. Second, beginning January 1, 2017 GFI #213 requires a transition to Veterinary Oversight. This includes a prescription for water soluble products (medicated drinking water) and a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) for medically important antibiotics used in or on feed and requires use to be authorized by a licensed veterinarian in the context of a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). 

BIQ: What do producers need to do to be ready for the changes?
DK: The first thing producers need to do is talk to their veterinarian. Each veterinarian will know better how the changing regulations will effect an individual operation. Be certain to establish a valid VCPR with your veterinarian.
BIQ:  I already talk to my vet, what more do I need to do? What is a VCPR?
DK:  A “veterinary-client-patient relationship” or VCPR documents your relationship with your veterinarian and establishes, in writing, their agreement to have oversight of the affected medically important antibiotics and how they are used. The veterinarian-client-patient relationship is the basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients, and their patients and is critical to cattle health and well-being. There is a federal definition for a VCPR and many states have definitions that exist under the state veterinary practice acts. In regards to the VFD, the FDA has released a list of the VCPR jurisdiction for the state or federal definition that can be found at this link:
Generally, a VCPR exists when:
  • The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgements regarding the health of the animal and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal. This means the veterinarian had recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by virtue of an examination of the animal or the medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept.
  • The veterinarian is responsible for maintaining and evaluating case and treatment records, and is readily available for follow up evaluation in the event in the event of adverse reactions or failure of treatment regimen.

 What resources are available to get me ready for changing regulations?
DK: The industry has compiled a host of resources for producers and industry stakeholders, available at This page includes brochures and pamphlets from FDA with specific information about how the new regulations effect each level of the industry and stakeholders, from feed manufacturers to veterinarians and producers. It also includes recorded webinars so producers can hear directly from FDA and renowned veterinarians on the topic of antibiotics and how to be prepared.
Additionally, the BQA program has just released a publication, Antibiotic Stewardship for Beef Producers, specifically addressing the use of antibiotics on the farm or ranch. This new handbook compliments BQA’s other documents by compiling all the relevant antibiotics information into a single 23-page, dashboard ready, reference. All of BQA’s resources can be found at
These resources, as well as other industry news sources, would be a great starting place for producers who have any questions or just want to know how to comply with the new regulations. 
BIQ: How did this all come about?
DK: The FDA developed these rules in an effort to establish more veterinary oversight over the use of medically important antibiotics used in animal medicine. These GFI’s support President Obama’s Executive Order: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.
BIQ: How can these new regulations help the industry?
DK: This allows the beef industry to better communicate with consumers that antibiotics are being used judiciously and responsibly to raise a healthy, wholesome cattle herd.  Ultimately, these guidance’s will allow our industry to better tell our story of cattle production and instill more confidence in our product from the consumer level.


Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Fall 2016, Questions and Answers

October 7, 2016