June 28, 2017

A Vote of Confidence

The concept of One Health goes beyond the individual needs of people and animals and extends to food safety, antibiotic resistance, the spread of mosquito and tickborne diseases, and more.
By Mike Hennessy, Sr
The concept of One Health goes beyond the individual needs of people and animals and extends to food safety, antibiotic resistance, the spread of mosquito and tickborne diseases, and more. In order for One Health to be all it can be, veterinarians need to be involved and visible at all levels. That’s why we were happy to see former Georgia governor, Sonny Perdue, DVM, sworn in as the secretary of agriculture in April, the first veterinarian to hold the position.
 
Agricultural communities and veterinary associations alike are hailing Dr. Perdue’s appointment as a positive move. Veterinary leadership at all levels of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is “crucial to creating and executing effective policies, and Secretary Perdue’s appointment is an encouraging sign that veterinarians will continue to be valued at the agency,” the American Veterinary Medical Association said in a press release.
 
“The only legacy that I seek is the one that any grandparent or parent seeks: to be good stewards and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Dr. Perdue said.

Outlining the principles that will guide him, he stressed his allegiance to (1) seeing that the American government removes every obstacle preventing farmers, ranchers, and producers from prospering; (2) making the USDA answerable to American taxpayers and consumers by focusing on integrity, efficiency, effectiveness, and excellent customer service; (3) acknowledging that food security is a key component of national security because hunger and peace do not long coexist; and (4) continually remembering that America’s bounty comes directly from the land.
 
An advocate for American agriculture, Dr. Perdue grew up on a dairy and crop farm in Georgia. He knows the success of a great crop and the devastation caused by drought or flooding. A graduate of the University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine, he spent a few years in practice and had a career in the military before launching agriculture businesses. His knowledge of farming, global commodities markets, and rural challenges led him to public service, first as a state senator and later as a 2-term governor of the Peach State.
 
A quick look at his Twitter handle @SecretarySonny reveals the work ethic we’re used to seeing from farmers and veterinarians. He’s already visited rural Midwestern communities from the Dakotas to Arkansas. He posts about meetings with farmers and ranchers, Native American tribal leaders, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian Beverly Schmitt, DVM, MS, whose research focuses on protecting animal health.

The numerous photos with aspiring young farmers reveal his passion about ensuring that agriculture is a viable career path. He’s also brokered deals to sell more American beef to Asia and promoted the organization supporting war veterans in farming. If America grows it or produces it, Dr. Perdue is committed to selling it, citing the statistic that for every $1 billion in agriculture exports, America creates 8000 jobs.
 
Dr. Perdue is circumspect about future budget cuts and believes that, although painful, cuts can and do lead to greater innovation. He promises he will give the best service he can with what he has. That’s what veterinarians, farmers, and ranchers do every day. So, we salute Secretary Perdue and we congratulate the veterinary community on the prestigious appointment of an esteemed colleague.
 
Thank you for reading.
 
Mike Hennessy, Sr
Chairman and CEO

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