US Supreme Court strikes down California law

On January 23, the US Supreme Court struck down a California law that bans the processing of all non-ambulatory livestock, including hogs. The law was approved by the California Legislature in 2008. It was prompted by the release of a video showing non-ambulatory cows being dragged and prodded at a California beef packing plant. The California statute would have required the immediate euthanasia of non-ambulatory animals, including hogs, upon arrival at the processing facility.

The National Meat Association (NMA) challenged the law. After going through the federal district court and the US Court of Appeals, NMA appealed the case to the US Supreme Court with the argument that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) pre-empts the California law. The high court agreed with NMA in a ruling that the FMIA “expressly pre-empts” the application of this law to federally inspected swine packing plants.1

The AASV, along with the National Pork Producers Council and the National Farmers Union, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. That brief argued that the California law could create a risk to animal health as well as criminalize the work of federal inspectors in California packing plants, while asserting that hogs which are merely fatigued pose no threat to food safety or public health.

The brief highlighted the importance of a robust federal inspection process to detect the emergence of animal diseases that could threaten the US swine herd. Foot-and-mouth disease is one example of a devastating foreign-animal disease that could be detected during federal inspection at a packing plant. Also at issue was the fact that many non-ambulatory hogs will recover and be able to walk, given adequate time to rest.

The Supreme Court ruling now sends the case back to the US District Court “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”


1. National Meat Association v Harris, 565 US__(2012).

Alternate Student Delegate selected for AASV board

The AASV Student Recruitment Committee is pleased to announce the selection of Joshua Duff (North Carolina State University, 2014) as the incoming Alternate Student Delegate to the AASV Board of Directors.

Joshua first became interested in swine veterinary medicine as an undergraduate in Animal Science at North Carolina State University (NCSU). He began working with the NCSU Swine Education Unit and assisted the late Dr Monte McCaw on research into PRRS virus. He has since worked with AMVC-Management Services in Audubon, Iowa, and for Murphy-Brown in Waverly, Virginia. He has also gained international experience in swine medicine and production in Spain and Denmark. Joshua currently serves as president of the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s AASV chapter and is organizing a trip to Belgium and France for five swine-focused veterinary students to spend time with swine veterinarians abroad and attend the 4th European Symposium on Porcine Health Management. He will present a poster at the AASV Annual Meeting in Denver describing the results of a research project on surveillance of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae in sows and suckling pigs.

Joshua will assume duties as Alternate Student Delegate during the 2012 AASV Annual Meeting in Denver. The former alternate delegate, Shamus Brown, will ascend to the delegate position. Shamus and Joshua will represent student interests within AASV as non-voting members of the board of directors and the Student Recruitment Committee.

Please join us in welcoming Joshua to the AASV Board of Directors!

New Swine Information Library content available

If you are an AASV member and you renewed your membership for 2012, you have access to NEW content in the Swine Information Library (aasv.org/library/swineinfo/). If you haven’t renewed your membership, now is the time to do so at http://ecom.aasv.org/membership.

What’s new in the swine info library? For starters, we’ve added the complete content of the 4th edition of the Swine Disease Manual – chapter by chapter. Do you need a brief overview of a specific disease or syndrome for yourself or a client? It’s right at your fingertips!

You’ll also find the 2011 George Young Conference, Leman Conference, and ISU Swine Conference proceedings online, and beginning March 10, the 2012 AASV Annual Meeting proceedings and seminar papers will be made available as well.

To view and access ALL of the Swine Information Library content, go to aasv.org/library/swineinfo/. To search for a specific topic, enter your keywords into the search box in the blue AASV Website banner and click “Go.” The search engine automatically includes the Swine Information Library content in the search results. You’ll need your AASV username and password to access the content. For assistance, contact the AASV at 515-465-5255 or aasv@aasv.org.

AASV Webinar available online

The AASV Continuing Education Webinar entitled “Euthanasia Solutions” held on July 20, 2011, was recorded and is now available for viewing online as a member benefit. The Webinar recording is available for access by AASV members only at aasv.org/webinar. The AASV Continuing Education Committee is considering topics for future Webinars and welcomes any suggestions.

PRRS elimination projects utilize PADRAP

Numerous regional PRRS control or elimination projects across the country are gaining momentum, and most are utilizing the Production Animal Disease Risk Assessment Program (PADRAP) to help producers see the benefits of participating in the project. Those in programs that are a couple of years old have been able to pinpoint areas to work on and are now seeing the benefits of changes in biosecurity protocols and compliance.

It can be time-consuming to collect PADRAP surveys for numerous sites and producers in each project, so some veterinarians and coordinators have recruited students to assist with the data collection. Last summer, 30 veterinary and pre-veterinary medicine students from several universities were trained to use PADRAP. They traveled to farms, veterinary clinics, schools, and church basements to go through risk assessments and enter them via the PADRAP Website under the direction of herd veterinarians and project coordinators. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc and Pfizer Animal Health funded the internship program, and Iowa State University conducted the training sessions.

In other news, four industry partners (Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc, Harris Vaccines, National Pork Producers Council, and Newport Laboratories) have now joined the National Pork Board and Iowa State University to provide support for the PADRAP Web site.

To date, 302 AASV members have been trained to use PADRAP. These members have conducted 3204 assessments on 1607 breeding herds and 750 assessments on 645 grow-finish sites.

Additional PADRAP news is available at PADRAP.org.

2011 AASV Salary Survey results now available

The AASV staff and members of the AASV Membership and PR Committee have completed the fourth salary survey of veterinary members in the United States and Canada. The 2011 AASV Salary Survey gathered salary and employment information for the year 2010. The survey results have been mailed to AASV members and can also be accessed online at aasv.org/members/only/SalarySurvey2011.pdf.

The AASV Salary Survey is intended to benefit the members of the AASV by allowing greater insight into the value of professional services provided by swine veterinarians. In addition, it functions as a tool to encourage veterinary students to pursue careers as swine veterinarians.

In 2011, a total of 888 United States and Canadian members were eligible to participate in the survey. The AASV staff received 365 responses, resulting in an overall response rate of 41% (compared to overall response rates of 38%, 40%, and 44% in previous years). The 2011 survey demonstrated good participation by members in both survey categories, with 39% (192 of 493) responding in the Practitioner group, and 44% (173 of 395) responding in the Public/Corporate group.

There were 76 female and 289 male responses to the survey. The AASV does not record the gender of members, so it is not possible to calculate participation rate by gender. However, it may be of interest to note that 21% of survey participants in 2011 were female, compared to 18%, 15%, and 12% in prior surveys conducted in 2008, 2005, and 2002, respectively.