Morrison millennial swine practitioners president

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Interview by Trisha I. Korioth

Dr. Bob Morrison
Dr. Bob Morrison

As the first AASP president of the new millennium, Dr. Bob Morrison, St Paul, Minn, has plenty to contend with. Yet, this associate professor from the Department of Clinical and Population Sciences at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine is prepared to tackle the challenges that swine veterinarians face today.

"We're facing some huge issues within our industry and our association. Our industry is consolidating and integrating at record pace and this is impacting swine veterinarians in almost every aspect of their work lives. On the one hand, traditional veterinary practice is being performed by fewer individuals. On the other hand, new opportunities are opening up in areas such as HACCP and food safety, business planning, and personnel training. One of the things our association is doing is giving members the knowledge they need to see these changes as opportunities, not threats. Whatever we can do, we want to do as an association for the members, as our industry consolidates and integrates. That's first and foremost," Dr. Morrison said.

Two other issues Dr. Morrison said are of concern to swine veterinarians are antibiotic resistance and swine welfare. "Those are our responsibility in the sense that we've been trained for them. We're out on farms every day, and we have to assure that management practices are in place that protect public health while maintaining welfare of the pigs."

"Wherever there's huge change there's opportunity, and one of them is going to be in this whole food safety area," Dr. Morrison said. "The other area we're seeing is farms getting together and producing pork in a verifiable way. With the new HACCP system, the packers are now in charge of the food safety of the product as it enters the plant. The packing industry is going to require that pork be produced under certain methods and the veterinarian is the logical one to certify that the product is being produced as defined. That is a huge new opportunity for veterinarians."

The requirement that meat must meet certain specifications is being carried into the new HACCP system to ensure quality pork products. "McDonald's, for example, requires that packers must meet certain criteria and process pork under specified conditions to be used under their product name. It's not too big of a stretch that we'll see that extended to the farm level. That's an opportunity both for our farmers and for veterinarians," Dr. Morrison said.

"The bottom line is quality pork for consumers. These changes represent the marketplace at work. We need a soft landing for some of the producers who can't adjust, but for those who can adjust to the changes, there's going to be great opportunity," he said.

Dr. Morrison said the AASP plans to continue working closely with the National Pork Producers Council. "As you might expect, we have many issues in common and we try to coordinate our actions. For example, on pig welfare, food safety, and antimicrobial resistance issues, we work closely with the producers. We work with AVMA when it comes to informing and influencing the political process, but we work with NPPC in that regard also," he said.

Regarding the advisory role the AASP will have in the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, Dr. Morrison said, "When AVMA is working on issues that involve the swine industry or food animals, we absolutely want to be involved."

Dr. Morrison became interested in swine practice when a practice he joined had a void in that area. "That fed my desire to do more, and then I gradually just focused on it."