AASV annual meeting 2017

Time to do what is right for the pig

Today's veterinarians have an important leadership role in the swine business.

One health, one world and one passion for the pig was the clear message at this year’s American Association of Swine Veterinarian annual conference. A record number of veterinarians and students gathered in Denver to discuss what is best for the pig.

Regulatory measures and consumers demand transparency has changed the veterinarian’s role on the farm or has it? 

Today’s consumers want more transparency. As J.J. Jones from The Center for Food Integrity explains, in an AASV session, more than 50% of U.S. consumers think that transparency on animal treatment is imperative to build trust in food companies. This statement should not be taken lightly but leave hog farmers questioning just exactly what level of transparency the meat-eating consumer really wants.

At the same time, the swine business is dealing with a storm of regulations. The pork industry often spends valuable time sifting through regulations, proposed legislation and rulemaking procedures in the name of keeping safe, healthy pork on consumer’s plates.

However, with all the noise surrounding food animal production, it is easy to lose focus on the important component of the swine business. Between the anti-animal agriculture agenda and the increasing regulations, America’s pig farmers and the veterinarians that serve them find themselves torn in many directions. As Matthew Turner, DVM, tells the AASV “As veterinarians, we need to do what is right for the pig at all times.”

Turner’s message was echoed by many speakers throughout the AASV conference — a good reminder for everyone involved in the swine business.

The veterinarian is an essential part in a pig farmer’s success. Veterinarians have great power. Yet, great power comes with great responsibility, especially when it comes to antimicrobial stewardship. Veterinarians need to take their leadership role seriously and exercise every opportunity to advocate for the pig and pig caretaker.

Be that as it may, even as the regulatory hoops and the consumer demands require additional time and grows tiresome. It is evident from the one-on-one discussion at annual gathering for swine veterinarians that the passion for the pig and science that guides the swine business has never expired.

Fundamentally, the swine veterinarian still has the No. 1 job of keeping the pig healthy. The practices, tools and medications may have evolved, but the immense level of care has never disappeared.

The swine veterinarian community is highly invested into the pork business. While the swine veterinarian needs to make a living, the investment goes beyond monetary involvement. The discussion at the annual gathering is not about how to make a fast buck, but a deeper discussion on how to effectively help America’s pig farmers to do right for the pig by leveraging science and practical measures to produce wholesome, safe pork for the global table.

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