President's message

January and February, 1998

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss pig medicine and share some experiences that we have seen in this part of the Midwest this past year. Last year's corn crop was late and immature when it was harvested, and we ran into some very severe mycotoxin problems for the past 6 months from feeding corn. The difficulty has predominantly been with vomitoxin--we've seen concentrations in final feed products as high as 4-6 parts per million. Sows we've fed with this grain appear to be hungry but just stand and look at the feed. We normally see an improvement when new grain is placed in front of the pigs every fall, but this year's new corn is far superior to the old mycotoxin-contaminated grain I've had to feed, resulting in almost unbelievable improvement.

This points out the importance of quality nutrition in maintaining the health of pig herds. Along with the reduced feed intake, we saw obviously decreased growth rates, higher mortality rates, and a higher incidence of secondary problems. We've also seen the typical increases in incidence of S. suis and Glasser's disease in nurseries, and increased cases of Salmonella and different pneumonias in the finishing barn. To maximize performance in the pig, all legs of the stool have to be in place. Health is dependent on nutrition, environment, and management.

Our fall board meeting was held October 8. At that time, we made a change in our by-laws regarding our staffing and office relocation. We've changed the title, "Executive Secretary," to "Executive Director." Although this may sound like a minor change in terminology, it has significant ramifications. The duties of an executive secretary are mainly administrative, including managing the office, business operations, and accounting. An Executive Director has these responsibilities and more. The Executive Director provides guidance and information to elected officers on issues affecting the AASP, and ensures that the AASP has the right people in the right place with the right information. The Executive Director must bring broad-based knowledge, help us network with other stake holders, and build coalitions when necessary in public policy, so that the AASP will be where it's needed to best serve the interests of its members.

In addition to this, external representation of the AASP to industry and government will help bring a consistent message and a consistent face to our representation. As presidents rotate through the AASP, it's difficult to have a consistent influence at meetings with external organizations. An Executive Director of Tom Burkgren's qualities will help us be more active and proactive.

We live in a political world, which makes political representation very important. The AASP's creation of the Executive Director position is an important step to ensure that membership of the AASP can be better served as more complex issues come to the table.

-- Larry Rueff