In April, the AVMA Executive Board selected 13 individuals from a variety of disciplines to serve on the AVMA Task Force on the Housing of Pregnant Sows.
These appointments mark the latest advance in the AVMA's efforts to address the controversy surrounding the housing of pregnant sows. The issue sparked a heated debate during the annual House of Delegates meeting in July 2003. Following the debate, the HOD approved a resolution directing the AVMA to conduct a thorough review of the literature on the health and welfare of keeping breeding sows in gestation stalls. The resolution was forwarded to the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee for action; the committee members recommended that the Executive Board create a task force to conduct the literature review, and the board established the task force during its November 2003 meeting.
The appointees are:
- Chair, R. Tracy Rhodes, DVM, an Executive Board member with a predominantly large animal practice
- Researcher, Lawrence D. Firkins, DVM, MS, MBA, an assistant professor in veterinary pathobiology and an extension swine veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
- Researcher, John J. McGlone, PhD, a professor in animal and food science and director of the Pork Industry Institute at Texas Tech University
- Swine veterinarian, Lisa Tokach, DVM, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, a self-employed practice owner, and former president of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians
- Swine producer, Kathy Chinn, chair of the National Pork Board's Animal Welfare Committee
- Behaviorist, Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, PhD, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Statistician, Larry Douglas, PhD, professor and associate chair of the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland
- Epidemiologist, Robert W. Wills, DVM, PhD, an associate professor of veterinary epidemiology at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- AVMA Animal Welfare Committee member, Christa Irwin, DVM, a swine veterinarian and member of the AASV Animal Welfare Committtee
- AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committtee member, Paul Sundberg, DVM, PhD, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board
- Humane organization representative, Michael C. Appleby, PhD, vice president of the Farm Animals and Sustainable Agriculture section of the Humane Society of the United States
- Ethicist/welfare scientist, David Fraser, PhD, professor on the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and senior research fellow of the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics at the University of British Columbia
- Agricultural economist, Dermont Hayes, PhD, professor in the Department of Economics and head of the Meat Export Research Center at Iowa State University
Task force members will meet twice and attend the AVMA Animal Welfare forum on sow housing and welfare this fall. Additionally, there will be conference calls and electronic discussions. After completing an extensive review of the literature, the task force members will prepare a written report for review by the Executive Board. The Animal Welfare Committee also will review the report and make comments. Finally, the report will be forwarded to the House of Delegates for review. The process is expected to take at least a year.