My last column: a big thank-you and keep up the good work

This column will be the last I will pen as veterinary senior manager at AHDB Pork, before I move to pastures new within the sector.

Writing this article every other month has become a real pleasure for me, affording time to reflect on what has been, or is, happening in the world of pig health and welfare.

For that reason, I’d like to reflect upon the changes to our industry since I have been in post.
My first day was somewhat of a shock, with it starting, unusually, on a Friday. Following the usual first day of introductions and meetings with HR, I had the pleasure of Saturday morning at Heathrow Airport with the then BPEX chair Stewart Houston, preparing to fly out to Canada and Chicago on a fact-finding trip on porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv). This pretty much set the tone for my role, with PEDv dominating my first year in post. I found disease contingency planning, writing standard operating procedure and legal negotiations with Defra took up much of my time.

Not long after starting, I was involved in organising an industry roundtable discussion on antibiotic use. Little did I know that this would grow to be another significant area of work, culminating in the development and launch of the electronic medicines book (eMB).

“So much of what I’ve achieved would not have been possible had it not been for the passion of people in the industry and their desire to progress.”

While antibiotics and disease preparedness have been two of the largest areas of work I’ve been involved in, I can’t forget some of the other big issue management situations we have faced, not least hepatitis E, Livestock-Associated (LA) MRSA and the so-called exposés on welfare conditions, to name just a few.

While I have been heavily involved in all of these areas, progress has only been made due to the tireless contributions from individuals both inside and outside of AHDB. So much of what I’ve achieved would not have been possible had it not been for the passion of people in the industry and their desire to progress.

My new role is still very much within the industry and I am sure I will continue to be involved with many of the organisations and groups that I have worked with while at AHDB, especially as there remain significant challenges for the sector and much work to be done. While the outcomes of Brexit remain uncertain, there continues to be a need for the industry to promote its interests to ensure access to markets and support for farmers is retained wherever possible. However, the areas of antibiotic use and disease contingency preparedness, which were big issues at the beginning of my tenure, remain two of our largest challenges, which is why I am pleased they have remained key priorities for AHDB.

My thanks go to all of those who I have had the pleasure to work with in my post and for all the hard work and effort you have put in. Keep up the good work.

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About The Author

Martin Smith joined AHDB Pork in September 2014 and is the organisation’s veterinary team manager. He specialises in animal and public health, disease prevention and animal welfare.