California Outpaces Feds on Regulating Antibiotic Use on Farms

The federal government hasn’t done much when it comes to regulating the use of antibiotics on the farm. So one state is stepping in with the strictest law in the country.

The drugs are commonly used to make animals grow faster and become more resistant to disease, but public health officials have warned that the animals become resistant to the drugs and can pass that resistance on to humans.

The Food and Drug Administration created a program by which volunteers could curb the use of antibiotics in livestock. California, meanwhile, has made such a program mandatory.

Last month, California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law requiring all farmers to get permission from a veterinarian to use antibiotics on livestock.

California state Sen. Jerry Hill sponsored the legislation, which was years in the making. Hill’s office reached out to farming groups, poultry and grain producers to get their thoughts on the bill.

“They were as concerned about antibiotic resistant bacteria as anybody else was,” Hill told the Washington Examiner.

Those concerns are echoed in the private sector. Major grocery chains such as Wegmans, Whole Foods and Walmart are joining restaurant chains such as Chipotle, Panera and Chick-fil-A to buy only antibiotic-free meat from suppliers.

The actions are in response to growing public awareness over the link between antibiotic resistance and meat.