AABP president: cattle veterinarians will outlast turmoil

Published on October 15, 2010
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Dr. Christine B. Navarre has worked in bovine medicine since she graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1990, and she was a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners as a student. Now a professor and extension veterinarian at the LSU Agricultural Center, she became the AABP president Aug. 21 during the association's annual meeting in Albuquerque, N.M.

Dr. Navarre said at the meeting that veterinarians face many challenges, but they will weather the storm. She spoke with JAVMA News about those challenges. 

What do you hope to accomplish as AABP president?

One of the big things that we've got going is an ad hoc committee on rural practice issues. We're getting ready to get started, and some of the issues involve student jobs, student debt, rural practice issues, and rural development issues in general. We're not the only profession that's having trouble filling rural jobs.

We're obviously going to continue to follow the antimicrobial resistance issue and follow what FDA is proposing and any legislation that is proposed.

Animal welfare is another big issue. We continue to see some of the animal rights groups put out videos that aren't representative of animal agriculture, and we're going to try to do our best to continue monitoring that and get out in front of that issue.

What challenges do you see for the association and members in the coming year?

I think that we're going to continue to see issues arise because so much of the public, and even many of our veterinary colleagues, don't understand animal agriculture. And we're trying to make sure that the information that gets put out there is as accurate as possible.

There's a lot of misinformation coming out in the media, and we need to try to educate the public and our colleagues the best we can on exactly what happens in animal agriculture so that we make decisions based on science and not emotions.

Some of the discussion at the AABP meeting involved maintaining relevance in agriculture. Is that a major concern?

It is, because when veterinarians aren't in areas to provide services, those services may start to be provided by other groups. There are certain things that veterinarians are trained to do and that we need in order to maintain a presence in the practice of veterinary medicine. So that is concerning.

We're trying to fill those jobs, which is one of the reasons that we've got this ad hoc committee: to look at and try to figure out what the reasons are so we can then make plans to fix that. That's going to be a major push.

You spoke at the meeting of AABP members "weathering the storm." What issues are part of that storm?

There's legislation, PAMTA (the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act), misinformation about animal welfare, rural practice issues—all of those are things that we're going to have to deal with.

Do you think a lot of these issues are, like a storm, going to pass?

They'll probably pass. I would like to have a hand in how that happens.

If we don't do something about the student debt issue, I don't know what will happen. Something's probably going to change, but is it going to change in a way that is good for veterinary medicine and for bovine practice?

If legislation like PAMTA passes, that creates a whole new storm.