For someone who writes papers for a living, you would think that putting together a president's message would be easy. Yet I struggled to get my message across and found myself in dire need of "a little help from my friends." Then I remembered the Paul McCartney song C'mon People1 which (after some minor modification) goes something like this:
Well I'm going to, yes I'm going to, get it right this time.
Well I'm trying to, really dying to, raise it to the sky.
People are ready to forget a few mistakes,
So let's get started, form a party, don't you know how long it takes!
C'mon people let the fun begin!
We've got a future and it's rushing in.
Pool all resources, let the skills combine,
Shout out the message that it's right this time!
At last, I felt inspired! This was a perfect message about collaboration, learning from the past, and looking to the future: a motivating "battle cry" as we prepare to make the change from an industry that is forced to live with PRRS to one that chooses to live without it. If you recall, I selected a PRRS platform upon which to run for office in 2004. Now, as I prepare for my presidency, I would like to review some of the accomplishments over the past 2 years and how they will impact the future.
I kicked off my vice-presidency at the 2004 Leman Conference with a lecture entitled "The future of PRRS in North America: What will the next decade bring?" There I outlined a four-point plan based on PRRS-related issues I felt our profession needed to address:
- Enhancing disclosure and transparency throughout the AASV.
- Increasing collaboration across the industry.
- Developing new models for PRRS-related research.
- Promoting a regional approach to PRRS control and eradication.
Since that day in September, I feel that much progress has been made. The AASV has become a closer-knit organization. We are talking more openly amongst one another, sharing information, assisting others in need, and, most importantly, maintaining a positive attitude. Conflicts of interest are becoming less of an issue as more members offer to disclose sources of funding during presentations. In regard to research, the AASV has worked closely with the National Pork Board PRRS Initiative and the USDA National Research Initiative PRRS Collaborative Agricultural Project. These initiatives have provided funding for investigators to collaborate on "high risk-high return" projects that are positioned to provide the information we need before large-scale eradication projects can move forward. Finally, PRRS eradication working groups and regional projects have been initiated throughout North America. While many of them have struggled due to the challenge of re-infection, in the next 2 years I am confident that there will be scientific breakthroughs along with the successful completion of demonstration projects that will re-energize these initiatives and lead to that all-important "sustainable eradication success story" that we desperately need to hear.
In 2005, as president-elect, my duties have focused on two major objectives. One was the planning of the 2006 annual meeting. I think you'll find that this year's theme "Beyond the basics" will complement the previous two meetings and provide future direction on the topic of regional eradication of PRRS and other production-limiting diseases. My second objective was to write an AASV position statement on PRRS eradication and get it approved by the executive board. This objective was successfully met at the fall board meeting in Kansas City.
Regarding the future, in conjunction with my ongoing PRRS research and outreach efforts, I foresee that my years as president and past president will be spent working side-by-side with Drs Tom Burkgren and Harry Snelson at the national level. Together, we will communicate the AASV position on PRRS eradication throughout the veterinary profession and the swine industry in order to raise awareness of the need, enhance collaborative efforts, and hopefully identify new sources of funding. The bottom line is that the AASV, academia, and the swine industry need to speak with a common voice.
In closing, we have had great leadership over the past 2 years from our previous presidents, Drs John Waddell and Tom Gillespie, and each of us owes them a great deal of thanks. Now it's my turn. I am excited, energized, and enthused to be your president. I feel we are unified and positioned for success. In the end, I am confident that our membership will serve as the model for all the species groups in regard to the way veterinarians work with industry to solve economically significant problems of food animals.
1. McCartney P. C'mon People. New York, New York: MPL Communications. 1993.