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5 Things You Should Know about Veterinary Feed Directives

As part of its strategy to promote the judicious use of medically important drugs in food animal production, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed how producers of food-producing animals will obtain medicated feed containing antimicrobials that are important to human medicine.  FDA began implementation and enforcement of its final rule on Veterinary Feed Directives on Jan. 1, 2017, and here are five key points for producers to know:

  • Under the FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) requirements, producers will no longer be allowed to use certain medically important drugs in animal feed for production purposes, such as growth promotion or feed efficiency.  Producers will be allowed to use animal feed containing these drugs for therapeutic uses (preventing, controlling, or treating disease), but only with written authorization from the producer’s licensed veterinarian (the VFD form) within the context of a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship.
  • A valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) exists when the veterinarian assumes responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the patient/animal’s health and the need for medical treatment and/or services, and the client/producer has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions for the animal.  The veterinarian must have sufficient knowledge of the patient/animal to diagnose its medical condition and must be readily available for a follow-up evaluation or arrange for emergency coverage in the event of adverse reactions or treatment failures.  
  • If there is a medical need for medicated feed, producers will then go to their veterinarian to obtain a written VFD order.  The licensed veterinarian will provide the producer a written VFD and will either send a copy of the VFD directly to the feed mill (or other feed distributor) of the producer’s choice, or will provide another copy of the VFD to the producer to take to the feed mill.  Once the feed mill has received the VFD, they may provide the medicated feed to the producer.
  • Producers must abide by the expiration date for the VFD itself and must also comply with the duration of use specified for the medicated feed.  The VFD’s expiration date is the period of time for which the authorization from the veterinarian is valid, or when that authorization expires.  The duration of use refers to the length of time the medicated feed is allowed to be fed to the animal(s) and when the medicated feed should be discontinued.
  • Distributors and veterinarians are also subject to numerous requirements under the FDA’s rules.  A producer who also manufactures medicated feed for others will be subject to additional requirements applicable to feed distributors.  All parties (veterinarians, producers, and distributors) must keep their VFDs for two years.

More producer information

Ohio Farm Bureau members can log in for further explanation of these points and additional resources on the FDA’s VFD rules:

American Farm Bureau Fact Sheet on VFD

Ohio Farm Bureau’s Quick Facts for Producers

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