Sales of antibiotics for use on the farm have risen 13% since 2011.

Latest figures also show a worrying jump in agricultural sales of products critically important for human health.

Globally, the use of antibiotics in agriculture has been in the spotlight as attention focuses on the growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Overuse of antibiotics plays a major part in the development of antibiotic resistance.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) report in October shows 64,400kg of antibiotics were sold in 2014 for use in agriculture and veterinary medicine, a rise of 7400kg since 2011. Most antibiotics are used in the pig, poultry and dairy industries.

Figures show a marked rise in sales of three classes of antibiotics classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “highest priority critically important” to human health.

Tylosin is among the drugs where sales have increased, a trend identified since 2009. Tylosin belongs to a class of antibiotics known as macrolides, critically important for human medicine. MPI data show most tylosin is sold for use as an additive to pig and poultry feed.

Sales of ceftiofur, classified as a third-generation cephalosporin and used primarily in the dairy industry, have also risen. Both third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins are critically important for human medicine. Sales of these drugs for agricultural use rose 55% between 2011 and 2014.

Consumers groups around the world, including Consumer NZ, are calling for a phase-out of the routine agricultural use of antibiotics important to human medicine. Latest data show numbers in New Zealand are going the wrong way.