The implications that go along with these regulations have been subjects of much discussion. One implication that will affect some producers more than others is the stipulation that the VFD forms be obtained through a veterinarian — and not just any veterinarian. The veterinarian writing the VFD form must have what’s termed a “veterinary client patient relationship” or VCPR with the producer.
Veterinary client patient relationships (VCPR) defined
- A veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of (an) animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client (the owner of the animal or animals or other caretaker) has agreed to follow the instructions of the veterinarian;
- There is sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) by the veterinarian to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s); and
- The practicing veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy.
It’s that last part that creates uncertainty, since it doesn’t specify how frequently a veterinarian must visit an operation. One could say these requirements were written in a purposefully vague manner: since the rules must apply to all food animal operations, a one-size-fits-all approach is not easily attained. One key is how often conditions, animals, and management can change on an animal operation. A cow-calf operation may have used the same type of cattle and management strategies for the past 20 or 30 years, while in a large dairy, disease processes, nutrition, and management may change on a monthly or weekly basis.
Veterinary feed directive (VFD) considerations
- VFD forms can’t be obtained from a veterinarian that has never seen your animals or operation.
- If a veterinarian is familiar with you, your animals, and your management, a farm visit to personally examine the set of animals to be treated may not always be necessary before obtaining a VFD.
- Your veterinarian is entitled to determine what “medically appropriate and timely visits” means in the context of their practice and your operation. They have no obligation to provide you a VFD if they feel a VCPR does not exist – their signature on the line indicates that relationship is present.
- A valid VCPR does not mean the veterinarian can authorize uses of feed grade medications that are not on the label (“extra label” use).
The bottom line
Conscientious livestock producers will look at the VCPR requirement not as an opportunity to seek loopholes in the system, rather they will consider it an opportunity for animal health and profitability improvement through veterinary involvement in their animal’s well-being.
Original article August 31, Pork Network