Secretary General, RUMA
Theagriculture industry has made significant progress in the fight against AMR however, the industry needs to continue to meet set targets to strengthen the response to the AMR challenge.
The Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA)1 was established in 1997 to promote the highest standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare in the British livestock industry. RUMA champions responsible use of animal medicines in UK livestock and has a current focus on AMR which is co-ordinated through a range of collaborative activities that contribute to the UK 5 Year AMR Strategy, most notably driven through the RUMA Targets Task Force (TTF).
Setting evidence-based industry targets
The Targets Task Force (TTF) group was conceived in Spring 2016 in response to Lord Jim O’Neill’s seminal Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Review.2 The report, commissioned by the UK government in 2014, assesses the global problem of increasing drug resistance and puts forward a number of actions to address the issue, one of which was to develop industry-led sector-specific targets for antibiotic stewardship in UK livestock farming. The goal of the TTF has been to identify realistic, evidence-based benchmarks and targets.
The first set of targets issued in 2017 became the industry roadmap and focus for everyone along the supply chain across each of the sectors. Last year, the second set of targets up to 2024 were published and in November 2021 the ‘one year on’ RUMA Targets Task Force 2 (TTF2) report was released.3
UK sales of antibiotics to treat food producing animals have more than halved since 2014 and the UK retains a position of seventh-lowest sales of antibiotics for food producing animals in Europe.
The progress made so far
Progress across the first set of targets has been significant. UK sales of antibiotics to treat food producing animals have more than halved since 20142 and the UK retains a position of seventh-lowest sales of antibiotics for food producing animals in Europe, the lowest among more commercially productive European countries.3
The use of highest priority critically important antibiotics has reduced by 79% since 20143 and less than 30% of the UK’s antibiotics are used to treat disease in food producing animals, despite over a billion farm animals being reared and managed in the UK every year. Levels of antibiotic resistance found through government monitoring and surveillance are also stabilising and falling in response to reductions in use4.
The second set of targets which run from 2021 to 2024, look to further enhance and strengthen the response of agriculture to the AMR challenge.
In addition, what has been achieved to date has been incredible and has been done so completely voluntarily without regulation – testament to the commitment right across the British livestock industry in delivering the highest standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare.
On a particular note, acknowledgement that achieving zero use of antibiotics is neither possible nor appropriate across any sector, so there will come a tipping point where the journey of reduction changes and becomes focused on maintaining responsible levels of use, rather than pushing antibiotic use so low that the repercussions would actually be detrimental.
 RUMA. Home | Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (ruma.org.uk)
 Veterinary Medicines Directorate (2020). Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2020 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
 5 European Medicines Agency (2020). sales-veterinary-antimicrobial-agents-31-european-countries-2018-trends-2010-2018-tenth-esvac-report_en.pdf (europa.eu)
 RUMA Targets Task Force Report (2020). SO-469-RUMA-REPORT-021220.pdf