Change is coming with the Veterinary Feed Directive

By Julie Tomascik

Own livestock? Do they occasionally get sick? How you treat them will look differently in 2017. All because of the VFD—Veterinary Feed Directive.

That one acronym will carry a lot of weight.

What exactly does it mean for farmers and ranchers?

The end of over-the-counter sales of medically important antibiotics that are mixed into feed or water. More steps in the process of purchasing medicated feeds. And, in some cases, finding a different feed to suit your needs.

There are many new changes. But the biggest of all? The veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR).

In order to have access to these antibiotics under this rule, farmers and ranchers will have to work more closely with their veterinarians. That means an established relationship must be documented. The veterinarian must have a thorough understanding of your farm or ranch. And your livestock.

But many small farmers and ranchers with just a few cows, pigs or chickens don’t have a traditional VCPR.

It’s a change that must happen. And it’s beneficial.

An ongoing relationship with a veterinarian who knows the health needs of the herd and understands the VFD is a win-win for livestock owners and consumers.

So what happens once the relationship is documented?

A veterinarian will write a script if needed. You take the script to the feed store. They file it. And fill the prescription.

Some products won’t be as readily available. Some will have minimum order requirements. Others will be removed.

And there are potential penalties for not following the labels. Fines range from $1,000 to $10,000 and even could include prison.

For more information on VFD drugs and how to obtain a VFD order, read this Q&A document from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

It will be challenging in the beginning, but it’s the future. Like it or not.

Change is coming Jan. 1, 2017. Will you ready?

Julie Tomascik

Associate Editor
Texas Farm Bureau
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