The Food and Drug Administration began keeping records on antibiotic use in livestock animals in 2009. For the first time since then, the agency says antibiotic usage dropped.
Sales of medically important antibacterials for livestock and poultry fell by ten percent in 2016. The decline actually took place ahead of new antibiotic usage requirements that became law in January. As of 2017, farmers have to have veterinary oversight to give antibiotics to livestock animals. The drugs can no longer be sold for growth promotion. Tetracyclines made up 70 percent of all medically-important antibiotics sold last year, but their usage dropped by 15 percent from the previous year. Opponents of on-farm antibiotic use look at this as a win.
The Natural Resources Defense Council points out that the decline follows a series of commitments from the food industry to cut back on antibiotic use. A senior attorney for the NRDC says the progress is heavily influenced by the changes already made in the chicken industry, but also says the beef and pork industries are lagging behind.