USDA chief veterinary officer changes role, acting chief takes over

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The Department of Agriculture’s chief veterinary officer has moved to a trade role, and an agency veteran is the acting chief. 

Dr. John Clifford, who had been the deputy administrator for Veterinary Services in the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for 12 years, left that position March 1 to become the chief trade adviser for the APHIS VS National Import Export Services. Dr. Jack Shere, who has worked for APHIS since 1990 and had been associate deputy administrator since 2013, is the acting chief veterinary officer and deputy administrator. 

In a pair of announcements in January and February, APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea praised Dr. Clifford for 30 years of dedication to safeguarding animal health and establishing relationships across animal agriculture, as well as lauded Dr. Shere’s extensive experience with animal disease outbreaks, wealth of veterinary knowledge, and management expertise.

He noted that Dr. Clifford met with agriculture officials across Asia in an effort that helped maintain trade during the 2015 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza and said Dr. Clifford will continue working with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on behalf of U.S. agriculture interests.

He also noted Dr. Shere’s role leading a nine-month federal and state eradication effort during the 2002 and 2003 exotic Newcastle disease outbreak in California, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah as well as expressed confidence he would position the veterinary services to defend against pests and diseases and maintain and open trade markets.