Putting the wheels in motion
In the July-August President’s message, I outlined the AASV plan for PRRS. Specifically, I identified four roles that the AASV can play in this long-term plan. The purpose of this month’s message is to update you on progress of that plan and fill you in on my activities as they pertain to it. I felt that as I am your president, you needed to be aware of how I am serving you. I would also be very happy to get some feedback on your opinions on my performance and how I can improve as I move into my next role as past president. Let’s revisit the four roles and check our progress.
Role #1: We can be leaders. A number of our senior members are happy that the AASV is “out in front” of the PRRS effort. We have stated the long-term goal, began the discussion, and are raising awareness of the need to rid the industry of this economically significant disease. I have spent quite a bit of my time this year traveling across North America discussing our plan for PRRS. Thanks to Doug MacDougald, Tom Gillespie, Joe Connor, and others, I have had the opportunity to spend quality time with practitioners and producers and to garner a wide variety of opinions on the pros and cons of PRRS eradication, a great learning experience for me, to say the least!
Role #2: We can be scientists. An early emphasis of our plan has been that science will lead the way and provide the answers we need to move forward. I am happy to report that there is a great deal of research underway across North America in the areas of PRRSV aerobiology, regional control and eradication pilot projects, and application of geographic information systems, as well as diagnostics, immunology, vaccinology, and genetic resistance. As far as my activities go, I am currently in the middle of a year-long PRRSV transmission and biosecurity project in conjunction with one of my graduate students, Andrea Pitkin. It’s a high-risk project that requires daily supervision; therefore, I am currently on leave from the University of Minnesota, “sloppin’ hogs and chasin’ PRRSV.” Results from many of these research projects will be made public at the 2007 annual meeting during the PRRS breakout session and the research topics session, so get ready!
Role #3: We can be team builders. Our team is coming together! The North American PRRS Eradication Task Force (PETF) has had several meetings and conference calls. Under the leadership of Paul Yeske and Monte McCaw, this group is gathering opinions on the feasibility of PRRS eradication and what are the most important “missing pieces of the puzzle” that need clarification in order to enhance success. Dale Polson and Derald Holtkamp are continuing to develop the AASV’s PRRS Risk Assessment tool and train veterinarians in how to apply it at the farm level. My efforts in this area have been primarily focused on developing and chairing the Minnesota PETF. Our team is made up of practitioners, researchers, diagnosticians, and producers from different parts of Minnesota, as well as representatives from the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and Board, its executive director, and Pam Zaabel from the National Pork Board. It is my vision that this model is replicated across North America, with the North American PETF providing leadership and oversight, thereby maximizing communication and collaboration.
Role #4: We can be educators. In order to be effective educators, we need to keep educating ourselves! There are many educational opportunities for AASV members to further their knowledge on PRRS, such as the Leman Conference, the ISU Disease Conference, the International PRRS Symposium, and our annual meeting, just to name a few. I want to assure you that as I educate producers about our long-term goal, I have been very careful in stating that this needs to be a producer-driven, voluntary initiative that is based on a well devised, science-based plan that will take considerable time to formulate. We realize that veterinarians can facilitate this initiative, but the producer segment of the industry must lead it.
In closing, that’s where we are as of today. I look forward to your input: please let me know what you think and how I can serve you better. I also pledge to you that I will carry on with these initiatives, not only as past president, but in years beyond as well. I made a promise to you when I ran for vice president to keep AASV in the forefront when it came to PRRS and I intend to keep it. Thanks for your support and see you in Orlando!