The Netherlands has achieved its policy objective for 2011 of reducing antibiotics use in livestock by 20% compared with 2009 figures.
In fact, total sales of antibiotics licensed for animal use decreased by nearly 32% from 2009 to 2011.
Compassion in World Farming has frequently highlighted the dangers of overusing antibiotics in livestock production, not only for animal welfare but also for public health. Overuse can create resistance which in turn can threaten the effectiveness of antibiotics in situations where they are truly needed.
As a member of the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, Compassion is calling for a concrete reduction in the use of key antimicrobials ensuring that they are only used where medically necessary and not as a preventative measure in livestock farming.
Compassion believes that in comparison to the approach taken in the Netherlands, the UK government's approach to reducing the use of antibiotics without setting clear targets doesn't go far enough. It has relied on a range of voluntary initiatives by the farming, retail and pharmaceutical industries to encourage the 'responsible use' of key antimicrobials. While we welcome these in principle, it is clear that in practice they do little to change the way in which antibiotics are currently used in agriculture.
Dil Peeling, Director of Public Affairs at Compassion says: "Given the success the Netherlands has had in reducing antibiotics on its farms, we would urge the UK government to follow suit and set its own, binding reduction targets.
"In our view this is the only way of bringing about a real decrease and ensuring that antibiotics remain effective in situations where they are truly needed."