President’s message
The pandemic year

For those of us who resided in the southern United States much of our lives, winter in the Midwest is somewhat a shocking event. Our Canadian members will likely express a smug if not a knowing smile when reading this. After all, they often wear the insulated bibs until July, quickly returning to them after a short 6-week hiatus. Temperatures below zero with windy conditions make for prudent if not conscripted time indoors. With most recreational escapes drawn to a halt, there is time for introspective reflection. Those of us who dream of warm island breezes and cobalt-blue water, rather than the flying snow and glazed lakes, can only find solace in the ample supply of books on navigation, seamanship, nautical charts, boat refurbishing, Captain’s Quick Guides (McGraw-Hill, New York, New York), and the plethora of Web sites revealing everything from circumnavigation tips to yacht crew and sail boat want ads. Even the little DN ice boat taking up space in the garage has no purpose with a foot or more snow guarding the ice from its sharpened blades. It is a time for rest and renewal, but also planning and strategizing for a new year – a year which will bring fresh opportunity and future successes. Our industry has suffered greatly, but still remains resilient and dedicated, as are the members of AASV.

Much has happened over the course of 2009. Pandemic H1N1, national and global recession, foreclosures, attacks by “animal rights” extremists, the PEW report, slipping consumer and export demand, and, most recently, an orchestrated de novo criticism of food-animal antimicrobial use. Like the cold of winter, these issues will ebb and flow with a periodicity much like the tide, remaining as persistent as the isochronous seasons. Much as confronting winter’s arctic chill with Gor-Tex®-lined boots, insulated gloves, and layers of clothing, we must adapt to the changing environment surrounding our industry, finding valued solutions to inevitable change. Change is upon us and survival requires coherent adaptation. Weathering the storm depends on the success of our customers, thus it is sapient that we underwrite their success. As an organization and as individuals, we must remain vigilant and politically proactive – exposing the underside of our critics from the grassroots to Washington, Ottawa, and Mexico City.

Serving as your president and spokesperson over the past year has been an honor and privilege, but also as humbling as a prize fighter knocked flat in the early moments of the first round by a superior opponent. Do you rise for more, or lie there in the safety of remaining prostrate? It is not the nature of those in the veterinary profession to remain silent on the sidelines or prone on the mat for long. We cannot survive with our heads in the sand. Science and ethics, our heart and soul, draw us upright. Although our critics are haughty with their superior funding, the AASV also has strength derived from the dedication of the officers, board, professional staff, the membership, and a stockpile of devotion to evidence-based science and technological efficiency – the lifelong learning experience. Our profession and our association will continue to attract the best and brightest young minds so long as the channels of communication, our open, honest dialog, and our enthusiasm for swine-production medicine remain. Let us make it so.

To this end, many thanks to all who kept us on our feet during the past year – the year of the pandemic. Our strength is our collective effort and conjunct certitude.

-- Butch Baker, DVM