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Since January 1, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully implemented the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) final rule aimed at facilitating the judicious use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals. The objective of this study was to identify the common perceptions of Tennessee (TN) cattle producers regarding the VFD. We used a combination of focus groups and survey questionnaires to explore TN cattle producers’ perceptions regarding the VFD. Preliminary findings from seven focus groups of 62 producers were used in the development of the questionnaire sent both online and in-print to rest of cattle producers in TN. The beef focus group participants perceived the VFD: to be a top-down policy; to have led to unregulated access to in-feed antimicrobials; a regulation that has limited the producers’ ability to prevent disease and leading to economic losses; to negatively affect small producers; and to be affected by challenges related to prescription writing and disposal of un-used medicines. The dairy focus group participants perceived the VFD as unnecessary and burdensome, to have affected small producers, and introduced additional costs. Among the survey questionnaire respondents, 35 (15.4%) beef producers and 6 (13.6%) dairy producers respectively were not familiar at all with the VFD. Forty-eight (21.1%) beef producers and 11 (25%) dairy producers were slightly familiar with VFD. Gender was significantly associated (P = 0.02) with the beef producers’ belief in the usefulness of the VFD. Similarly, for dairy producers, herd size was significantly associated (P = 0.002) with their perceptions regarding the usefulness of the VFD. The findings of this study could inform future VFD policy review processes. More awareness regarding the VFD and its benefits is needed among both beef and dairy producers in TN.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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