From the Executive Director

Tom Burkgren Priorities

With the new year upon us, it is a time to consider what we deem to be important for our personal and professional lives. I am not big on setting resolutions for the coming year, but I am big on setting priorities, both personal and professional. As a father of two teenagers, both of whom will be in college within 2 years, my personal priorities revolve around family commitments. School events and my kids’ activities seem to be defining most of my social calendar. Since my involvement with high school will come to a screeching halt in the spring of 2009, I am trying to enjoy every minute with my kids as they complete this phase of their education.

Professionally, I am centered on the priorities of the AASV. The board of directors is responsible for setting the course of the organization. Priorities are set at board meetings and at a strategic planning session during the year. The overall priority of increasing the knowledge of swine veterinarians does not change. It remains the reason we exist, and all other priorities must fit under that mission. Some priorities are continued from one year to the next. Other new priorities emerge, such as the idea to hold an AASV summer conference featuring wet labs. The first one was in June of 2007. The next will be in May of 2008, and planning is underway for its program. There are some additional priorities for AASV that deserve mentioning in this message.

Setting guidelines for humane and timely euthanasia of swine is a priority for producers, veterinarians, and the AASV. The euthanasia guidelines jointly developed by the AASV and the National Pork Board are in need of review and possible revision. If new science or technology exists, then it needs to be incorporated into our guidelines. The guidelines must reflect methods which provide a humane death that occurs without pain or distress. The methods must be grounded in science and balanced with practicality and operator safety for on-farm use. A joint NPB-AASV working group is currently preparing a set of draft guidelines for presentation to the board of directors.

Swine diseases have historically been a priority for AASV members and the AASV. Diseases continue to be a priority as the AASV Swine Health Committee addresses a number of related issues. The situation in China with reported high-mortality diseases in pigs has drawn the attention of AASV leadership. Likewise, concern over other emerging diseases in the swine industry (eg, porcine circovirus associated disease) has been raised. In response, the AASV board has directed the swine health committee to investigate and establish a response to emerging diseases in swine. Dr Kent Schwartz has agreed to chair this initiative and the swine health committee.

Ongoing development of the PRRS Risk Assessment Tool is continuing. In November, the Web-based version of the risk assessment was rolled out as the Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program (PADRAP). The Web application reduces the time required to complete and upload surveys. It will also allow users to more easily access and view reports. The first training session for users of PADRAP was held on November 10, 2007. Other training sessions are being planned for the annual meeting in San Diego. The database now contains more than 1000 assessments, representing more than 800 breeding-herd sites. A priority is to increase the number of AASV members using the PRRS Risk Assessment, thus expanding the database and increasing the overall utility of the tool. A second priority is to develop the next version of the PRRS Risk Assessment through a thorough evaluation of the questions, responses, and risk weights in the current version.

Finally, the AASV Annual Meeting is certainly a priority at this time of the year. The 2008 meeting is in San Diego for the first time. This is the farthest west we have ever gone for an annual meeting. It is also the first time we have been in two warm-weather sites in consecutive years (the 2007 annual meeting was in Orlando). It has always been an AASV priority to satisfy the wishes of our members concerning the site selection for the annual meeting. Members have indicated that warm weather should be a priority for site selection. Selection of San Diego is a culmination of members communicating a priority to leadership. By all early indications, San Diego is going to be a popular meeting site. I hope you make it a priority to attend the 2008 annual meeting and maybe soak up some sun while you are there!

These are not all of the priorities of the AASV, nor are they in ranked order. Numerous other priorities for the association are acted upon by AASV leaders, committees, and staff. Please contact me if you have priorities that need the attention of the AASV.

--Tom Burkgren, DVM