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Input Sector of Production Agriculture

A fifth sector for the food industry can be defined as the manufactured inputs used by production agriculture. This page introduces the regulation of food animal drugs, food animal feed, pet food, biotechnology in the agriculture industry, pesticide regulation and similar regulated activities.

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Does the logic of "Farm to Fork" also encompasses "pre-farm"?  That is, does the overall food safety system need to consider the inputs that production agriculture uses, such as crop pesticides or feed additives that may leave a residue in or on the ag commodity that is then processed into food? Consider the following topics; the answer is "yes".

    For example, will there be HACCP (voluntary or mandatory) for producers of feed for food animals?  Will there be GAP for production ag inputs? 

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    Food Animal Drugs

    • FDA regulates drugs for humans but it also is responsible for regulating drugs for animals, whether they are animals for human food or companion animals (pets)
    • FDA oversight
    • As with other details that FDA oversees, animal drugs must be approved before they can be used and animal drug manufacturers can seek a regulation approving the drug by petitioning for such a regulation.
    • The discussion at this point focuses on drugs primarily intended for food animals, that is, those animals that are raised to be used for human consumption.

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    Food Animal Feed

    • FDA is authorized to oversee animal food/feed.  This authority encompasses both food animals and companion animals.  The focus of this discussion is on food animals.
    • Feed processors, especially feeds that include medication for the animals, are within the scope of this FDA authority.
      • See Animal Feed Safety System at http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AnimalFeedSafetySystemAFSS/default.htm
      • Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)
        • "In 1996 Congress enacted the Animal Drug Availability Act (ADAA) to facilitate the approval and marketing of new animal drugs and medicated feeds. As part of the ADAA, Congress recognized that certain new animal drugs intended for use in animal feed should only be administered under a veterinarian's order and professional supervision. For example, veterinarians are needed to control the use of certain antimicrobials. Control is critical to reducing unnecessary use of such drugs in animals and to slowing or preventing any potential for the development of bacterial resistance to antimicrobial drugs. Safety concerns relating to difficulty of diagnosis of disease conditions, high toxicity, or other reasons may also dictate that the use of a medicated feed be limited to use by order and under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Therefore, the ADAA created a new category of products called veterinary feed directive drugs (or VFD drugs).
        • "In June 2015, FDA published a final rule that revised the VFD regulations in 21 CFR 558.6 and introduced clarifying changes to the definitions in 21 CFR 558.3 (80 FR 31708). This guidance document includes revisions that are consistent with the requirements in the 2015 VFD final rule."
      • HACCP -- are these feed processors expected to follow HACCP production practices?
      • FAO "Animal Feed Impact on Food Safety" at ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a1507e/a1507e00.pdf
        • Excerpt from Executive Summary
        • "The (October 2007) meeting concluded that ensuring safe feed is an important component of efforts to reduce and prevent food safety hazards. Potential measures to ensure safe feed include:
          • applying valid methods for decontamination, disinfection and cleaning;
          • developing rapid and economical analytical methods for screening feed and feed ingredients;
          • reporting the presence of undesirable substances to national and international authorities; to this end, minimum criteria for reporting such events to trading partners are needed;
          • developing international standards for certain undesirable substances using the “Tolerable Daily Intake” (TDI) approach;
          • rapidly notifying the competent authorities of feed safety incidents that could result in human food safety hazards;
          • training regulators, inspectors, feed and livestock industry personnel and farmers to produce and use safe feed;
          • implementing communication strategies to address consumers and the food industry, highlighting the importance of feed safety in producing safe food products; and
          • assisting less-developed countries to meet international standards through the provision of technical advice and assistance."

      States also take a role, for example in North Dakota, the Department of Agriculture has responsibility for feed, livestock medicines and pet food.

      Also see FACT SHEET: Veterinary Feed Directive Final Rule and Next Steps   and Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD).  

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      EPA Pesticide Registration

      • "EPA examines the ingredients of a pesticide; the site or crop on which it is to be used; the amount, frequency and timing of its use; and storage and disposal practices. EPA evaluates the pesticide to ensure that it will not have unreasonable adverse effects on humans, the environment and non-target species. Pesticides must be registered or exempted by EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs before they may be sold or distributed in the U.S. Once registered, a pesticide may not legally be used unless the use is consistent with the approved directions for use on the pesticide's label or labeling."
      • The training of producers or chemical applicators who apply these pesticides also needs to be considered.
      • See http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/regulating/registering/
      • North Dakota Pesticide Registration Program and Pesticide Applicator and Dealer Certification (also see ND Pesticide Training and Certification Program).

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        Biotechnology

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        Pet Food

        • Cannot overlook Fluffy
        • This topic is more along the line of food processing, that is, preparing a product so it is ready to sell to consumers.  Animal feed (discussed above) is different in that the feed is intended to be sold to other businesses (e.g., farmers), rather than to consumers.  Alternatively, there is a similar between animal feed and pet food in that the products are consumed by animals, not by humans.  Thus from a regulatory perspective, pet food has similarities to both human foods (sold to consumers) and animal feed (consumed by an animal, not a human).  The legislative branch of government has placed the regulation of pet food in the same broad category as animal feed, even though the products are intended for different markets (production agriculture versus consumers).
        • Food Additive Petitions for Animal Food at http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm056809.htm

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        Summary

        The chain of events from "farm to fork" begins with the inputs that production agriculture uses in the farm and ranch operations.  Restated, the firms supplying inputs to the agriculture production sector can impact the safety of the final food product.  A strategy of overseeing the entire food system has to consider how animal feed is prepared and what pesticides are used in crop production.  Oversight of the production ag input sector is likely still in its infancy.  Will the rules for ag input suppliers be similar to the expectations of ag producers and thus input suppliers will be incorporated into the production sector, or will the rules for input suppliers be so distinct that over time the input supply sector emerges as a fifth sector in the food industry?

        There is no question that the ag input section will be overseen by government.  The only question is whether the oversight will be incorporated into the oversight of the ag production sector or will the oversight define a fifth sector in the U.S. food industry?

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        Email David.Saxowsky@ndsu.edu

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