Antibiotic Stewardship

CADE seeks to advance sustainable food policies at the nexus of agriculture, public health, and the environment.

Did you know that livestock receive 65% of the total amount of antibiotics administered to humans and animals in the U.S.? Cattle receive 41% of the livestock portion, which amounts to 25% of all antibiotics administered. While the presence of antibiotic residue in beef sold on the market is highly regulated, overuse of antibiotics including the still-pervasive practice of preventative antibiotic treatment in livestock is causing the emergence of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs.’ This has led to a growing public health crisis of bacterial infections which cannot be treated with modern medicine.

The New York State Department of Health established the NYS Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention and Control Task Force, which developed Stop Antibiotic Resistance Roadmap (STARR) to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. One of its recommendations is reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics in livestock.


CADE worked with public school food purchasers to adopt a beef procurement specification to support enhanced on-farm antibiotic stewardship aimed at combating antibiotic resistance. Using the market as a tool to incentivize farmers to advance enhanced antibiotic stewardship, CADE piloted a first-ever beef procurement specification for public school districts in partnership with the CCE Tompkins County Farm-to-School Project.* In April 2019, food purchasers from four school districts (Dryden, Groton, Ithaca and Trumansburg) in New York’s Southern Tier region took the unprecedented step of requiring vendors that bid on their beef contracts to meet new specifications that reduce on-farm use of antibiotics while promoting animal welfare.

Building on the success of the pilot, CADE seeks to replicate and scale the antibiotic stewardship procurement standard among K-12 schools across New York State. The standard aligns public school purchasing with New York State’s public health policy and helps protect communities against antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause infection and illness.

School food purchasers interested in replicating the standard in their procurement bids can download “A Guide for Public School District Food Purchasers on adopting a Beef Procurement Specification to Help Combat Antibiotics Resistance”.

*CADE worked with the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) at George Washington University to refine the beef specification. ARAC manages the first standard certified by USDA that allows for minimal use of medically important antibiotics in poultry production—the Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use (CRAU) program. CADE’s new beef bid specification incorporates many principles in the CRAU standard.


Since the 1960s, it has been a common practice on dairy farms to use “blanket” dry cow therapy – administering antimicrobial drugs that prevent and treat costly mammary infections to all cows as they enter a dry off period. Today, great improvements in animal care, milking techniques, and animal-specific record keeping have reduced both infection rates during lactation and the need for blanket treatment at dry off. 

Developed by CADE, in collaboration with Cornell University’s Quality Milk Production Service (QMPS), the New York Farm Viability Institute, and Dairy Health, the Selective Dry Cow Therapy (SDCT) Guide covers antibiotic treatment protocols for farms of all sizes, and contains resources and educational materials for dairy producers, veterinarians, extension agents, and educators.