Dr. Dave Rhoda, from Wisconsin, shared the award-winning WVMA treatment protocol planning work with a group of dairy and beef producers at the beef checkoff’s annual Dairy Producer Communications breakfast at the Cattle Industry Convention in Tampa, Fla. Rhoda has been working with the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) to address drug use on dairies and to encourage dairy producers to have a “mindset shift” when it comes to treatment protocols.
“People are serious about this. Our agricultural community already places food safety, food quality and food quantity at the top of their priority lists,” said Rhoda. “This is something that producers want to do, and we simply offered a viable plan on how to do it.”
Rhoda emphasized that drug residues are a “people problem” — somebody made a mistake. He noted that the VCPR – Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship – is a top priority and communication is key to understanding roles and responsibilities unique to each dairy.
“From the beginning, we said this is not something where we can write more regulations, or where we can check boxes and be satisfied that what needs to happen will,” said Rhoda. “This needs to be an action plan that includes the people who are involved with the Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR). We need to develop a plan where the necessary actions are performed on that farm to be confident there are no residues.”
The checkoff’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) work is very much a part of what has happened with drug usage issues on dairies. In line with past National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) results, the WVMA work initially centered around tissue residues. Since audit results have shown continued improvements made by dairy producers when it comes to tissue residue and proper injections, the priority has shifted more toward putting together the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan that works for the drug usage in any food animal. And, Rhoda’s work has been shared with the BQA state coordinators, who work daily with beef and dairy producers to share the latest management practices for animal care, which helps ensure a safe food supply.
Rhoda’s message to producers is one they can take back to consumers. “We’re not really doing this because there are major issues. We are doing this because there is an opportunity to do better. And we are doing this because the consumer has expectations of us and we want to meet those expectations.”