Drug and food ingredient shortages hit U.S. ranchers

Dairy cows are seen at Derrydale Farm, an organic dairy farm in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, USA on October 24, 2020. Photo taken on October 24, 2020. REUTERS / Bing Guan / File Photo

CHICAGO, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – Michigan dairy farmer Doug Chapin has been unable to purchase vials of veterinary penicillin for his cows for more than a month.

In Minnesota, pig farmer Randy Spronk reformulated feed rations due to a shortage of the widely used ingredient, lysine, an amino acid that helps cattle grow taller.

Supply chain disruptions are hitting U.S. meat producers and pushing them to seek alternatives as they seek to care for farm animals and cut costs.

Shortages of some drugs like penicillin partly reflect competition for raw materials between humans and animals as the COVID-19 pandemic alters demand and disrupts global trade due to shipping bottlenecks and bottlenecks. throttling of ports.

Supply issues, in turn, cause veterinarians to question long-standing farming practices and force changes within the food industry. Smithfield Foods of WH Group (0288.HK), the world’s largest pork producer, told Reuters it had seen shortages and substitute products and manufacturers when needed to maintain animal care.

In agricultural states including Iowa and Minnesota, farmers said they were struggling to find lysine, usually a cheaper food alternative to soybean meal.

The main supply issues are for dry lysine products from China, said Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM.N). The Chicago-based commodities trader halted production of dry lysine this year and is selling a liquid version.

Farmers like Spronk feed more soybean meal to pigs at a higher cost to replace dry lysine. The move pushed Chicago Board of Trade soybean meal futures to a four-month high on Wednesday.

“It’s to the point where producers literally have to reformulate to remove lysine or lower the lysine level to try to expand it,” Spronk said. “You can’t get it.”


For medicines, Chapin and his family try to stock up on penicillin and other supplies in case the animals get sick. One of the most common drugs used in animal production, penicillin can treat respiratory illnesses and other ailments.

“I always thought the next bottle was just a phone call away,” Chapin said.

Widespread penicillin shortages across the country have posed problems for cattle and dairy operations, said Patrick Gorden, president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Vets struggled to find even a few bottles of Pen-G, an injectable antibiotic to treat sick cattle, sheep and pigs.

Similar shortages are emerging for some tetracyclines, a class of antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in farm animals, vets said.

“In some cases, we’ve looked at alternatives to therapy or had conversations about whether this treatment is really effective or necessary at all,” Gorden said.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists the shortages of nine veterinary drugs that began as a result of the pandemic. The agency said it has contacted the manufacturers and is not sure when they will resolve the supply issues.

“These shortages should not limit the ability of veterinarians to provide appropriate medical treatment or euthanasia to pets or livestock,” said Jose Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

But the food and pharmaceutical sectors are feeling an impact.

The world’s largest animal health company, Zoetis Inc (ZTS.N), does not manufacture penicillin products but has reported “localized stress” on other products as the pandemic has impacted them. supply chains. The company declined to name these drugs.

Irish manufacturer Bimeda Inc has two veterinary penicillin products on the FDA’s shortage drug list, including Pro-Pen-G.

North American and Chinese suppliers of an FDA-approved material used to make penicillin suffered supply disruptions earlier this year, Bimeda spokeswoman Mary van Dijk said. She declined to name the material. A Chinese supplier also encountered quality issues that took about six months to resolve, she said.

Another problem is that raw materials normally used to make antibiotics for animals have been diverted to make amoxicillin for humans, van Dijk said. Medicines share common raw materials and demand for human amoxicillin has increased during the pandemic, she said.

Amoxicillin can be used to treat ear infections in children, sore throats, and other conditions.

“The supply disruptions are not fully resolved,” van Dijk said.

Reporting by PJ Huffstutter and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Marguerita Choy

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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