Changes to government legislation have the UFA concerned for farmers who've relied on them for decades to get their livestock antibiotics.

UFA Vice-President of Commercial Agribusiness, Rob Giguere, says as of Saturday, December 1, medically important livestock antibiotics must be prescribed by a vet, and can only by bought at a clinic or pharmacy.

"You don't always plan for sick animals, and when you do see something you have to treat, you have to run into town and buy it (antibiotics), and that's kind of how farmers in Alberta have done it for a long long time, and they've relied on UFA for that. For us we're more concerned with access to product, and if a guy needs something quickly, where do you get it now?"

About 300 products are moving from over the counter, to prescription only, including tetracycline, penicillin, scour boluses, and sulfa drugs.

The upcoming changes are being mandated by the federal government as part of a global effort to decrease the rate of antimicrobial resistance.

Despite the changes being put in place by the Feds, they'll be administered by the Province.

To get a prescription, livestock producer will need to have a Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship.

Giguere says, over the past few months their suppliers have stopped shipping them antibiotics because it will soon be dead stock, leaving their shelves virtually empty of these products.

"Reduced supply is going to effect price potentially, and there is that opportunity for prices to increase. I don't think necessarily veterinarians are going to take advantage of the situation, but I do think that lack of supply is going to effect availability and price both. We're already hearing about some price increases across the province."

He says, the UFA was involved in industry consultations about this legislation coming into effect, and even met with Alberta Agriculture Minister, Oneil Carlier, but the legislation only allows veterinarians and pharmacists to dispense the drugs.

Giguere says, they'll continue to work with the government to find solutions, so farmers have quick access to competitively priced products.

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