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Directional signs that indicate where you are and the exact directions to get to where you want to be can save you a lot of time and frustration. Wouldn’t it be great to have an AASV sign that indicates where the association is and all the correct turns to get to where it wants to be? The AASV doesn’t have such a sign, but it does have members who have insights, opinions, and thoughts on a wide range of topics. So we asked them for directions on the following questions: Should the AASV be involved in social and political issues that affect the swine industry? And can the AASV control its destiny?
From Paul Sundberg
“Each of the veterinarian members of the AASV have taken an oath ˜to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.’ It is the responsibility of an association to get things done that the individual members cannot do by themselves. It’s AASV’s responsibility to represent us in all of the places and activities surrounding health, animal care, conservation of resources, public health, and medical science that we as individual members can’t get into or where we wouldn’t be heard. It’s the responsibility of the AASV members, committee, and leadership structure to define the message to deliver.
Can AASV control its destiny? Who can? The AASV, like all the individual segments of our industry, has to recognize its unique abilities to contribute to the success of the pork industry and then work in concert with other segments to make it happen. The success of the individual links of the chain is in large measure dependent on the success of the entire chain and vice versa. Sometimes it is best to speak; sometimes it is best to listen to others. Sometimes it is best to lead; sometimes it is best to follow. It is that art of balance that helps give a person or an association the opportunity for the greatest measure of being in charge of their destiny.”
From Steve Henry
“The AASV has as its mission to educate swine veterinarians. That core is at the heart of whatever the association does or is involved with. It is not our mission to educate politicians or society as a whole. Our AASV mission statement includes ˜Advocating science-based approaches to industry issues’ and that is our only declaration of how we interact on socio-political details. The AASV earns respect by staying true to its mission. It is clear that others like and appreciate the AASV at the table on all sorts of issues that really aren’t our core mission. The AASV is a proper, valuable, and helpful participant with USDA, FDA, USAHA, NPB, NPPC, AVMA, and research endeavors such as the CAP and numerous other examples. And part of this supports our mission ˜educating swine veterinarians’ as the word and details get back to members, keeping us informed. It is when the AASV somehow moves or is pulled beyond its mission that control of destiny is lost, for example, while pharmaceutical and biological companies would love AASV endorsement and help to convince the world that more pig drugs and vaccine sales are a good thing, we obviously don’t do that, it is someone else’s mission. Same is true when welfare activists try to either coerce us into aiding their mission or marginalize AASV as anathema. We are true to what we believe and what we can deliver when we advocate science-based approaches to industry issues. By definition, political and social issues attract opinion and involvement. The AASV membership is a deep and specialized repository of knowledge and experience. Members will be sought and they will contribute greatly to such issues. Members of AASV hold personal beliefs and opinions across the political spectrum as individuals. But the AASV collectively has historically remained true to and not strayed from its mission, and, I believe, must continue to do so if it is to enjoy long-term success.”
From Dave Madsen
“Political-social issues of late have centered on animal-welfare and animal-rights discussions and arguments. The AASV has taken a leadership role regarding sow housing through development of the AVMA position statement. In matters of other species, the AASV remains engaged and assists decisions via shared experiences. Seeking to fill advisory positions on committees for AVMA and others allows AASV to maintain open lines of communication with multi-species groups, including those promoting positions unfavorable to our clients. It will be vital to the pork industry and to AASV to continue our involvement in both highly visible and more covert engagement with these and emerging issues. It is, unfortunately, about so much more than bugs and drugs today.”
From Tara Donovan
“The AASV has always been a place where I can get informed of issues involving my industry, latest research reports and information, and my most valued benefits, mentorship and camaraderie. For AASV to have more than an informative and educational-based role in political and social issues would be a mistake. The association can control its own destiny as long as we continue to appreciate and respect the diversity of our membership, at the same time honoring the integrity and values that have made the association what it is today.”
From Darrell Neuberger
“The AASV’s main role in political-social issues should be dissemination of information on these issues to its members in a timely manner. With this information, members need to be encouraged by the AASV to individually and personally become involved. Our profession is currently facing some critical issues including animal welfare, defending veterinary practice acts, and legislative appropriations to veterinary colleges and diagnostic laboratories. If members wait for the AASV administrators or committee members to represent their interest, or if members wait to react rather than being proactive, we may indeed control our own destiny. Unfortunately, it may not be the destiny we wish to reach.”
--Tracy Ann Raef