Move follows AABP conference

Chain of command, food chain addressed
Published on November 15, 2005
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Three weeks after AABP members gathered in Salt Lake City for their 38th annual conference, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners moved its headquarters from Georgia to Alabama, continuing the transition to new management.

The transition began in February with the appointment of Dr. M. Gatz Riddell Jr. to succeed the late Dr. James A. Jarrett as executive vice president. Rome, Ga., had been AABP headquarters since Dr. Jarrett took over the reins in 1993. The interstate move to Auburn, Ala., was made this October, and AABP headquarters officially opened there Oct. 17.

Dr. Riddell is making an incremental transition to executive vice president, at present devoting about 80 percent of his time to the AABP and the remainder to his professorship in the Department of Clinical Sciences, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Heading the slate of officers who will work with Dr. Riddell over the coming year is Dr. John Ferry, Adams, N.Y., who ascended to the presidency (see profile). Dr. Ferry succeeded Dr. Rich Meiring, The Ohio State University. Dr. Charlie Hatcher, College Grove, Tenn., assumed the office of president-elect. Dr. Michael Bolton, Greenville, Mich., retired as director of District 4 to become vice president.

Prior to the conference, AABP members elected Dr. Richard Wiley, West Salem, Ohio, to replace Dr. Hatcher as District 4 director; Dr. Shawn Blood, Guymon, Okla., as District 7 director; and Dr. John Lee, Merced, Calif., as District 10 director.

The Salt Lake meeting, Sept. 24-26, drew more than 1,700 registrants, including 850 veterinarians and 169 students.

Kevin MurphyKeynoter Kevin Murphy's message in his address on "Full Chain View: Full Circle Communication" was that veterinarians must become what he calls directors of veterinary marketing, communicating with all the other members of the food supply chain. As director of market development for Vance Publishing Corp.'s newly formed Food Division, he takes his message up and down the chain, gaining insights into the impact others are having and will have on veterinarians' business.

Murphy said, "The whole system begins with, is fueled by, and ends with the consumer. The reason that is key is because we used to produce products and inflict them on the consumer."

All the people within the chain must work together to bring products back around to the consumer. "This cycle is spinning a lot faster than it ever has," he said.

Murphy defined "winning brands" as carefully designed business systems and said that a system stretches from the choice of raw materials to the final product. Today it's the total production system that counts, not just the end product.

"More and more, companies are looking inside the system," he said. The makers of Gerber baby foods monitor the production systems used by its ingredient suppliers. Cargill's brand advertising indicates it gets involved in the type of feed being given to cows that are the source of its products.

"The missing link in the food chain is communication," Murphy said. "Full-circle communication allows you to safeguard the journey of your brand." A 2001 survey Vance conducted of 3,200 people in the pork market found that people rarely talk to others in the supply chain who aren't direct suppliers. Murphy said veterinarians need to tell their story, otherwise, someone down the chain may dictate the way they do business.

Leadership transition

It was a veterinarian, for example, who informed the restaurant chain Chipotle of the legitimate need for hormone and antimicrobial use, leading the company to pull its ad campaign "We don't stick our animals."

Surveys such as one partially underwritten by the Animal Agriculture Alliance show that consumers have deep trust and confidence in veterinarians. Murphy said that as the food system comes into clearer view, consumers will be looking for credible, trustworthy sources. He noted that ads such as PETA ran in the New York Times depicting "veterinarians without a heart" illustrate that activists will try to erode that credibility if their product (or issue) attacks don't work.

Murphy suggested reading "From Mind to Market: Reinventing the Retail Supply Chain," by Roger Blackwell, and subscribing to a free tool offered by Vance—the Food Systems Insider e-version newsletter. Log on here.

Studies encompass bovine practice  

Summaries of two industry studies were presented at a general session on the future of bovine practice. 

Dr. Roger Saltman spoke on the AVMA-Pfizer Business Practices Study. This study identified management behaviors, attitudes, and actions that affect practitioner incomes. A report in the AABP proceedings by Dr. Saltman and senior author Dr. Fred D. Lehman explained the overall findings but also zeroed in on bovine-specific data. Dairy veterinarians earn on average $97,410 per year, for example, while beef veterinarians earn $83,620.

Preliminary information from a study commissioned by the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition was presented by Dr. Rod Sydenham, AABP member and coalition chair, along with two of the authors, David Andrus, PhD, and Bruce Prince, PhD. The FSVMC/Bayer study addressed the demand for and availability of food supply veterinarians in the United States and Canada, and factors influencing attraction and retention. (Executive summaries of the areas of focus in the study report will be published in JAVMA.) The AABP presentation focused on job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and demand for beef cattle and dairy cattle veterinarians.

After attending the session, former AABP president Dr. Lawrence Hutchinson remarked, "The study relating to food supply veterinary medicine tells us that some things aren't as bad as we thought, while there are other things we need to work on—for example, the mixed messages that some teachers give students about careers in food supply veterinary medicine."  

Cultivating food supply students

Five veterinary students who have proven their interest in food supply veterinary medicine and excelled during their first three years of veterinary school were recognized by the AABP and Schering-Plough Animal Health with $1,000 stipends and plaques. Recipients of the second annual AABP/Schering-Plough Animal Health Student Recognition Award were Egan Brockhoff (SKW '06), Nathan Dorshorst (WIS '06), Rebecca Mentink (WIS '07), Joseph Shockey (OSU '06), and Matthew Walker (PEI '06).

The AABP awarded the Amstutz Scholarship to 22 second-year veterinary students. Each scholarship was increased to $1,500 this year. Funding sources for this award include AABP member donations and a generous annual contribution from the Eli Lilly Foundation through Elanco Animal Health. Seven AABP members were recognized as new gold-level donors for contributing at least a thousand dollars since the scholarship program was initiated.  

New award recognizes young leaders

Deserving AABP members who have graduated within 10 calendar years will be eligible for a new award. The James A. Jarrett Young Leader Award will recognize members who have made important contributions toward ensuring the AABP's current success and future viability. The award consists of a commemorative plaque and ring. Its namesake is the late AABP executive vice president.   

Dr. Charlie HatcherDues increased

At the annual business meeting, AABP members approved a proposed bylaws change to increase membership dues from $95 to $125 for regular members; from $50 to $65 for veterinary interns, residents, and graduate students; and from $15 to $20 for student members. The last dues increase was in 1993. 

Executive Vice President Riddell said that besides addressing daily practice issues, purveying the best bovine continuing education, and supporting students, the AABP is being asked more and more for input on issues ranging from antimicrobial susceptibility to the future of food supply veterinary medicine. Since 1999, the board's focus has been member services. The association has expanded areas of the annual conference and ventured into a more proactive Web site, for example. All this doesn't come without a cost, Dr. Riddell noted.  

Board, committee actions 

The board of directors adopted Principles of Animal Welfare developed by the AABP Animal Welfare Committee to replace the AABP Statement of Principles. Chair Jim Reynolds said his committee considers the new principles as more pertinent, specific, and rigid, and the terminology as more current. He said the new principles will "raise the bars."

The AABP position on disabled livestock was amended to prevent the dragging of animals that are alive and to recommend euthanasia when it becomes apparent that the animal will not recover.

As proposed by the AABP Animal Welfare Committee and supported by the Mastitis Control Committee, the board approved slightly amending the AABP position statement on tail docking. The position the committee drafted last year stating that not enough scientific information was available to support the procedure set off a debate within the AABP about science-based policies vs. cleanliness issues, and led to a member survey. The new position reads as follows:

The AABP is not aware of sufficient scientific evidence in the literature to support tail docking in cattle. If it is deemed to be necessary for proper care and management of production animals in certain conditions, veterinarians should counsel clients on proper procedures, benefits and risks.

Dr. John R. CliffordThe Lameness Committee presented guidelines for severely lame cows, which the Welfare Committee found to be "an excellent document," to the board for consideration.

The board began to develop a plan to create an AABP Foundation.

In the AABP position statement on aminoglycoside use, it was decided to add intramammary to the routes of administration advised against in cattle because of the potential for causing violative residues. The position now reads as follows:

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners, being cognizant of food safety issues and concerns, encourages its members to refrain from the intramammary, intramuscular, subcutaneous or intravenous extralabel use of the aminoglycoside class of antibiotics in bovines.

Funding of $2,000 was approved for the Iowa State University student chapter of the AABP for its recruitment efforts. In 2004, students created the Veterinary Student Mixed Animal Recruitment Team to recruit and mentor primarily high school students for careers in food supply veterinary medicine.

The board designated $5,000 to match Schering-Plough's offer of up to $5,000 to increase the total amount available for AABP research assistantships from $10,000 to $20,000 for the 2006 granting cycle.

The board entertained a lengthy discussion about the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization. At the center were Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and the three AABP representatives to PAACO. Although concerned about the direction PAACO is moving, both the AABP and AASV strongly advocate veterinarians' involvement in some system of third-party audits and auditor certification.

Albuquerque, N.M., was selected as the AABP's 2010 meeting site.

Messages from two presidents  

AVMA President Henry E. Childers updated veterinarians at the AABP business meeting on national activities, including the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams' hurricane-related response. He also thanked AABP members who are involved in organized veterinary medicine. "When it comes to public respect and recognition, veterinary medicine is ranked among the top three professions," Dr. Childers said. "Rankings such as this ... are the result of years and years of efforts and dedication by the AVMA and you the members, who have shown a willingness to accept challenges and to embrace change."

Outgoing AABP President Rich Meiring said, "As food supply veterinarians, we bring valuable assets to the table, if we think about our training in epidemiology, foreign animal diseases, antimicrobial resistance issues, and environmental management." Dr. Meiring encouraged all members to join the AABP in making industry leaders and policy makers aware of their expertise and readiness to serve as front-line resources.