A few years after I graduated from veterinary school, Dr Jim McKean introduced me to his wife by saying “I’d like you to meet Dr Mary Battrell. The faculty at Iowa State University recently worked for her for four years.” I laughed and asked if I was really that demanding. He said, “not at all, you just took advantage of the opportunities in front of you and ensured you got your money’s worth.” What Dr McKean and so many others soon learned was that the questions were not going to slow down. I was just getting started. When I think of all the outstanding members of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) who have inspired me, contributed to my professional growth, and helped answer my many questions throughout the years, I am filled with gratitude. The AASV is an exceptional organization. It has an outstanding staff that keeps us all connected and focused. The annual meeting is extremely well organized and provides us multiple tools for improving the health and well-being of our animals while making our producers more profitable. I have received more than my money’s worth from my AASV membership! When asked if I would be a candidate for vice president, my first thought was that I am not the most qualified among the members. I am certainly not the most articulate. I would, however, greatly appreciate the opportunity to show my gratitude and contribute in whatever way possible to further the success of this outstanding organization. I am truly honored to have been nominated for the office of AASV vice president. A sincere thank you to those who nominated me for your confidence and trust. If elected, I will do my best to not disappoint.
I grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in southeastern Ohio. I attended The Ohio State University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Immediately following, I earned a master’s degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee. Upon graduation, I moved to Iowa and worked as a sales representative for the Upjohn Company. I decided to pursue my dream and returned to college. In 1995, I earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree and a master of science degree in swine production medicine from Iowa State University. Dr Fred Cunningham hired me and gave me the opportunity to gain some valuable production experience. I was a staff veterinarian for Browns of Carolina, a Smithfield-owned hog production company, for three years and a technical services veterinarian for Pharmacia. Although Pharmacia was a wonderful experience, I missed my pigs and people. I returned to production as a staff veterinarian for Smithfield (formerly Murphy-Brown, LLC), where I have remained. I am currently the veterinarian for the East Central Region of Smithfield Hog Production and responsible for the health and well-being of 140,000 sows farrow to finish. I have been actively involved in the development of the Smithfield Animal Care Program and their Contingency Plan for a Foreign Animal Disease. All total, I have been with Smithfield as a field veterinarian for 22 years. Much to my amazement, you were kind enough to award me the 2018 AASV Swine Practitioner of the Year, an honor I will always treasure. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and care deeply for our industry. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, who is a production director for one of our contract growers, a son-in-law and step daughter with two beautiful boys, and a son who is currently enrolled in animal science at North Carolina State University. Our home has always been filled with love and conversations about pigs.
If elected, I would encourage the AASV to continue their focus on the following key areas:
Providing educational opportunities. We need to ensure that the topics covered at the AASV Annual Meeting and in the e-letter are enticing to its members and provide relevant and timely information. We must maintain our exacting standards and remain a science-based organization.
Prevent disease introductions. Foreign animal and some domestic diseases are a tremendous threat to our industry. Producers are looking to us for answers. We need to educate ourselves and others on identifying risk factors for disease introductions and make every possible effort to mitigate those risks. We need to strengthen our relationships with our state and federal government officials and prepare a contingency plan.
Promote animal agriculture. Much of the general population does not know where their food comes from. They have limited understanding of our business yet are often anxious to offer criticism. We need to constantly look for opportunities for improvement and to share our accomplishments in the areas of animal care, judicious use of antimicrobials, and environmental management. We must continue to strengthen our relationship with the American Veterinary Medical Association and offer increased support to the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, and Swine Health Information Center.
Mentoring students. We need to continue to welcome, nurture, and mentor students. They are the future of this organization and will be the torch bearers for the swine industry.
I have tremendous faith in the membership of the AASV. I believe by working together we will continue to grow and offer improvements for the health and well-being of animals in our care and the producers who depend on us. It would be my privilege to serve as this organization’s next vice president. I would sincerely appreciate your support.