Watertown veterinarian on front line of food safety

Farm Forum

A veterinarian recently received continuing education as part of the South Dakota Reserve Veterinary Medical Officer Corps.

Veterinarian Roger Clement of Lake Area Veterinary Clinic has been a member of the corps since its inception in 2001. The corps assists the South Dakota Animal Industry Board in the event of an animal health or food safety emergency.

“The Reserve Veterinary Medical Officer Corps is a group of private veterinarians who would assist our agency in the case of a major disease outbreak,” said Todd Tedrow, staff veterinarian for the Animal Industry Board. “The group was formed to enlist more veterinarians for our agency in case such an instance ever occurs.”

Tedrow said fortunately no such outbreak has occurred in the state during the 14 years the corps has existed.

“We have had a few of our corps members do some local work for us,” Tedrow said.

The 41 members of the corps were hand-selected by the Animal Industry Board based on their geographic locations and veterinary specialty in large animals, including dairy and beef cows, horses, pigs and sheep. Once selected, a veterinarian serves for life, unless he or she chooses to step down upon retirement, Tedrow said.

“Dr. Clement has served since the beginning of the corps,” Tedrow said. “He was selected because of his location, his willingness to be part of the corps and his specialization in large animals.”

The corps met Jan. 5 in Pierre for its annual training session. This year’s training focused on secure food supply plans, presented by Danelle Bickett-Weddle from Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health.

“These plans are a cooperative effort of the livestock industries, academia and state and federal animal health officials to allow for continuity of operations for livestock producers in the event of disease outbreaks,” Tedrow said. “The training equipped our corps veterinarians with the steps necessary to help these producers be able to carry on with their businesses.”

State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven said he appreciates the corps veterinarians for their commitment to assist the Animal Industry Board in preparation for animal health and food safety emergencies.

“It is important to keep this group together and advance their knowledge of animal health emergency management and foreign and emerging animal diseases,” Oedekoven said.