There's little question that food safety is going to increasingly find its way onto the farm. Whether it's through packer-designated criteria, initiated by regulations or self-imposed by producers, pork production in the future will involve management protocols that prevent problems, control potential hazards and document food-safety related procedures on the farm.

The question is: will you as a producer be on your own to fend for yourself or will there be others lined up to help?

Of course you will get help, because like most changes, on-farm food-safety issues offer new opportunities. Certainly you're already benefiting from industry programs like the Pork Quality Assurance program and the Trichina Eradication pilot project. The National Pork Board has many irons in the fire when it comes to finding on-farm food safety answers.

Veterinarians are a logical sector to provide assistance in this area, and they've indicated load and clear that they're interested in expanding their on-farm services to include food safety. According to an American Association of Swine Veterinarian's survey, most are willing to take further training to serve as on-farm auditors and verifiers. They also would like to see AASV play a lead role in developing such auditing and verification systems.

Swine practitioners from 23 states, who had offices or practices in the United States, provided 243 usable surveys. Respondents said private practitioners or herd veterinarians would be the most acceptable auditors. Respondents also believed that the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points approach to food safety was effective for residue avoidance, but were mixed in their opinion about its effectiveness in preventing microbial contamination.

Some veterinarians have already begun organizing their clients and developing basic auditing programs with food safety issues in mind.

The survey offers insight into the attitudes and interests of an important leadership segment of the industry. It also is a starting point for AASV and the industry to take proactive steps in developing workable on-farm food-safety programs. It will certainly be a topic for producer and AASV meetings in the future.