Starting in 2018, California’s livestock industry will no longer be allowed to give regular, low doses of antibiotics to healthy farm animals under a bill signed on Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The measure, SB 27, prohibits this type of use of the drugs, which are commonly administered by ranchers and farmers to speed up an animal’s growth. It was authored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.
The Centers for Disease Control says more than two million people get sick and thousands die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, which scientists say can be attributed to the common use of the drugs in livestock.
Brown explained his support for the ban in this signing message: “SB 27 addresses an urgent public health problem. The science is clear that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock has contributed to the spread of antibiotic resistance and the undermining of decades of life-saving advances in medicine.”
“Recently, American poultry producers have shown leadership by voluntarily committing to better husbandry practices and eliminating the subtherapeutic use of antibiotics. This is an example that the rest of the livestock industry should follow," he added.
Justin Oldfield of the California Cattleman’s Association, which is is neutral on the bill, told Capital Public Radio in September that the bill provides for some flexibility.
"The bill does allow veterinarians and ranchers working in collaboration with each other to ensure that antibiotics can still be used for, not only disease treatment, but prevention where appropriate," he said at the time.
Oldfield says farmers and ranchers want to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics which also treat and prevent diseases in animals.
Some groups opposed the bill, including the Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics, saying it does not go far enough to restrict the use of the drugs in livestock.