President's message

Tom Gillespie Looking back and forward...

Greetings! As I write my last president's message, I am experiencing many emotions. This year has provided me with extraordinary opportunities, experiences, and contacts. The memories will stay with me for a long time.

I am continually impressed with the strength of AASV, which is found in the members' dedication and willingness to say, "Yes, I will." Our staff of Drs Tom Burkgren and Sue Schulteis adds efficiency and professionalism in representing AASV. The newest member of our staff, Dr Harry Snelson, has "stamped" his knowledge of what practitioners need in the quality of topics for the weekly e-mail letter. I encourage each of you to take a moment at the annual meeting to say "thank you" to all the hardworking people who make the meeting a success.

As I reflect on the activities of the past few months, several major issues come to mind. Welfare is one issue that is always looming before us with an ever-changing "face" and "battlefields" where we must take action. With its broad scope that affects so many facets of animal husbandry, it is difficult to feel that headway is being made. But the AASV must continue to engage in this issue.

On a different topic, the positive cash flow that our clients have experienced in the last 2 years should provide unique opportunities for the attending veterinarians. Of course, with opportunities there are challenges. Postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome has erupted in some units across the country. The syndrome varies in severity and economic cost to a unit. It is perplexing that the definitive cause or causes associated with clinical presentation differ among units. Knowing swine practitioners, we will attack this syndrome, as we have in the past, with disease control programs that will reduce clinical signs and economic losses.

An AASV accomplishment during the year was development of a position statement on PRRS elimination. At the World Pork meeting, Dr Steve Henry's passion motivated several, with Dr Scott Dee spearheading this activity. I have had producers positively acknowledge what we have initiated. One producer's comment that comes to mind is "The only way to climb a mountain is one step at a time!"

A continuing challenge is the means by which AASV supports and interacts with organized veterinary medicine to deal with the issues facing animal agriculture. For example, consolidation within the industry impacts manpower, especially the need for veterinarians to service the remaining units.

A goal that continues to be met is AASV's financial stability. Because our organization does not struggle to pay its bills, we may be creative in expanding our membership base. Examples include the activities developed by Dr Larry Firkins and other members to attract outstanding veterinary students, early in their studies, into swine medicine. The livelihood of our profession lies in these efforts.

The past year has been rewarding. I would like to mention a few individuals who have impacted my life. My parents, Robert and Ines Gillespie, deserve recognition for the impression and direction they provided during my early formative years. My parents taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. I would like to acknowledge my wife's parents, Dean and Lois Haupert. They provided insights into agriculture from a farmer's perspective. To Dr Kirk Clark, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity you gave me as a young professional. I wish Kirk and Holly a long and enjoyable retirement together on that new fishing boat. Lastly, I would especially like to thank my family. My wife, Denise, and my three children, Kevin, Matt, and Kendra, have been great supporters as I have served this profession.

I personally want to thank all AASV members. It has been a privilege to serve each of you. I leave the position of president in the very capable hands of Dr Scott Dee. I know that Scott will serve us well.

-- Tom Gillespie