Capitol Alert: California livestock antibiotics bill shelved

jwhite@sacbee.comApril 30, 2014 

An Assembly bill curtailing the use of antibiotics on livestock is done for the year.

Drug-resistant bacteria have become an increasing threat, and public health researchers say the widespread use of antibiotics has helped bacteria develop resistance. Assembly Bill 1437 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, sought to ensure farmers and ranchers give their animals antibiotics mainly to treat illnesses, rather than for preventive reasons.

Mullin has now pulled his measure, saying he lacked the votes to advance it.

"Rather than weaken our bill with amendments which would not address the problem, we opted to table our bill for this session," Mullin said in a press release.

Proponents of Mullin's bill argue that food producers lace feed and water with antibiotics to promote weight gain and compensate for cramped, unsanitary conditions associated with mass meat production.

Agriculture industry critics have countered that producers need the flexibility to treat sick animals and prevent disease outbreaks. Numerous agricultural associations opposed Mullin's bill, including the Agricultural Council of California and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Still alive is a less far-reaching bill by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, that would put into California law voluntary federal guidelines recommending that farms stop using antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes like weight gain.

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