Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to step up animal antibiotic tracking. Specifically, they want the agency to propose a rule to improve collection of data on antibiotic use and resistance. “We applaud your agency’s recent step to issue improved, more transparent reports on annual food animal antibiotic drug sales and distribution data,” the Senators wrote. “However, we are disappointed to learn that your agency has decided to delay proposing a rule that would further enhance data collected on this topic until next year, when the Office of Management and Budget estimated the rule would be released in 2014.” Such data would enable federal agencies to take action to protect public health and support research into understanding resistance. It’s also important for monitoring the impact of policies aimed at eliminating the injudicious use of antibiotics on farms. “We particularly hope this proposed rule will allow your agency to collect more specific data on how different antibiotics are used in different species and for different indications,” said the Senators. The main source of data on animal antibiotics is sales data, and while this information can still be useful, it doesn’t necessarily show how farmers use the drugs “on the ground,” and public health stakeholders want to see information about use by species and the actual purposes of administration. The Senators are also encouraging FDA to develop a plan for estimating how antibiotic sales and distribution data relate to on-farm antibiotic use practices. “[A]ny type of antibiotic use can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance, and data on antibiotic use practices is important for identifying and addressing risks to human and animal health,” they wrote.