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26 November 2020

75% less antibiotics in Belgian animal feeds, 65% less in total usage

Since 2011, the Belgian knowledge centre AMCRA (Antimicrobial Consumption and Resistance in Animals) has been registering the usage of antibiotics in animals in Belgium. The Covenant between the Federal Government and the sector partners involved set the goal of reducing the total usage of antibiotics in livestock farming by 50% by 2020 compared to 2011. With less than 10% to go to reach this final goal, the AMCRA articulated four new goals in its ‘Vision 2024’.

In 2016, the Covenant set three goals regarding the reduction of the use of antibiotics in the animal sector.

  1. A 50% reduction in the usage of animal feeds medicated with antibiotics by 2017
    = already achieved and even surpassed in 2017
  2. A 75% reduction in the usage of critically important antibiotics by the end of 2020
    = already achieved and even surpassed in 2017
  3. A 50% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in livestock farming by the end of 2020
    = 40.3% decrease at the end of 2019; AMCRA continues to work on this objective in order to achieve it by the set deadline

Belgium is already looking forward, setting 4 new goals for 2024.

The main goal of ‘Vision 2020’ was to halve the use of feeds medicated with antibiotics by 2017. That goal has been achieved. In the next phase, we will try to achieve a 75% reduction of the use of antibiotic enriched feeds compared to 2011.

1. Determining animal specific limit values at the farm level and 1% heavy users

Limit values will be defined for low users (green zone), focus users (yellow zone) and heavy users (red zone). Those limit values will be defined in such a way that the set goal of 50 mg/kg biomass across all animal species will be achieved by the end of 2024.

Heavy users (red zone) will be actively traced, contacted, and supervised. For these users, the aim is to achieve a situation in which a maximum of 1% of all companies are in the red zones and only incidentally (no two successive reports).

2. Evolving the total use of antibiotics in animals in Belgium towards the median use in Europe

The median of the use of antibiotics in Europe is about 50 mg/kg biomass and has remained relatively steady in recent years. A gradual reduction in Belgium should eventually lead to a total use of about 50 mg/kg biomass by the end of 2024.

Assuming that the 50% reduction goal of 2020 is achieved, a further 15% reduction will be required in order to achieve a 65% reduction compared to 2011.

3. To bring the maximum use of colistine to 1 mg/kg biomass

In 2018, the use of colistin in Belgium amounted to 1,69 mg/kg, a reduction of 64,4% compared to 2011. In order to enable a further reduction and to meet the target of 1 mg/kg biomass by the end of 2024, the animal feed industry has committed to stop using colistin in medicated feed by the end of 2021 at the latest.

4. A 75% reduction in antibiotic enriched feeds compared to 2011

In order to achieve these objectives, 9 action points were also defined in the 2024 vision. Data collection and benchmarking remain important but in ‘Vision 2024’ AMCRA goes one step further. Veterinarians will have to provide usage data and they will also be benchmarked. In case of excessive use, a plan for improvement will be drawn up.

In addition, farmers and veterinarians will be coached individually and trained. Efforts will also be made to raise their awareness.

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