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Veterinary Medical Extension and Continuing Education

Craig Payne, DVM, director

VMECE faculty work side by side with veterinarians and livestock producers to reduce disease and improve productivity on livestock operations.

Veterinary Medical Extension and Continuing Education (VMECE) works in collaboration with organizations, industry and other MU faculty to provide educational opportunities and up-to-date information for veterinarians and animal owners. In 2012, the program offered four continuing education events for veterinarians seeking continuing education credit to renew their veterinary licenses. Team members also presented information about animal diseases or production-related issues to more than 2,500 people at 49 different meetings across the state. They also made more than 30 farm visits with local veterinarians to help solve individual livestock problems.

A large part of VMECE's role is to address issues that have widespread impact on Missouri veterinarians and livestock owners. Issues such as rising input costs, drought and increasing regulations all impact the livelihood of these individuals. During the year faculty worked with veterinarians and livestock producers to help them implement new ideas that reduce input costs and/or increase revenue. In addition, faculty conducted research in estrus synchronization to improve cattle reproductiveness, explored ways to expand marketing opportunities for small- and medium-sized beef producers, developed measures to increase biosecurity in swine operations, and worked with veterinarians and producers to improve health in beef and dairy cattle.

Another issue challenging livestock owners and agriculture is public concern about how food is produced. Many people do not understand the current complexities of food production and question the environmental, social and scientific merits of today's agricultural production systems. Agricultural producers pride themselves on providing one of the safest and most abundant food supplies the world has ever known. As a result of this discrepancy in viewpoints, consumers are wary and critical of modern food production, while agriculture struggles to tell its side of the story to consumers. This leads to mutual frustration and distrust.

More than 85 percent of the commercial swine operations in Pettis, Saline, Lafayette and Johnson counties were involved in this project. Collectively these operations raise 500,000 hogs.

In response, VMECE faculty in collaboration with other MU faculty, are developing a Food Dialogue Center. The center will serve as a resource for consumers who want unbiased and balanced information about food and food production. In addition, the center will promote dialogue among consumers, farmers and the food industry, thereby increasing communication and elevating trust among the various stakeholders.

On a recent project a faculty member worked with swine producers in Pettis, Saline, Lafayette and Johnson counties to implement procedures to control and eliminate porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, an economically devastating viral disease of pigs.

In addition, faculty members have made 11 farm visits with local veterinarians in central Missouri to address complex disease issues, and have presented information at five different meetings held in the central region.

Faculty members have been involved in the Regional Food Systems Brown Bag Lunch series and together with other MU faculty are exploring ways to collaborate at MU in the areas of researching, developing, strengthening and creating food systems.

In 2012, faculty members worked with individuals from animal science and economics to develop the Missouri Beef Project. They also worked with meat scientists, wildlife extension faculty and the Missouri Department of Conservation to develop a venison processing course for hunters.