The University of Calgary’s Diagnostic Services Unit (DSU) held the meeting of its inaugural Livestock Stakeholder Advisory Committee this spring, and Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is pleased that Karin Schmid, Lead, Beef Production and Extension, ABP, has since been elected as Community Chair.
In 2020, the governments of Canada and Alberta finalized $3.44 million towards animal health diagnostics at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM). The investment is funding a pilot project for quicker, more affordable diagnostics for vets and producers, as well as learning opportunities for students.
“This expansion will enhance livestock diagnostic capacity in Alberta through subsidization of pathology and bacteriology services,” said Dr. Jennifer Davies, director of UCVM’s DSU, on the funding announcement. “These enhanced services will fill a void in the current veterinary landscape by providing high-quality, affordable, in-province, livestock diagnostics to rapidly identify diseases and shed light on antimicrobial resistance patterns.”
Check out: Tests and services offered through the DSU
As part of the pilot project, the Livestock Stakeholder Advisory Committee (LSAC) will provide information on the changing needs of Alberta’s livestock community, to help inform the development and delivery of diagnostic services.
The committee is made up of representatives from producer groups, the UCVM, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, as well as the Chief Provincial veterinarian. It will meet up to four times per year.
Karin will co-chair the Livestock Stakeholder Advisory Committee alongside Dr. Ashley Whitehead, Associate Dean, UCVM Clinical Programs, and Dr. Jennifer Davies, Director, UCVM Diagnostic Services Unit.
Karin grew up on a mixed farm near Keoma, AB, and has a Master’s Degree in Agriculture from the University of Alberta. As part of her role with ABP, Karin provides policy direction and technical support in the areas of cattle health and welfare, cattle and beef research, environmental stewardship, and efficient cattle and beef production practices to cattle producers throughout Alberta.
To get some insight into the Committee, and her three-year commitment as Community Chair, we decided to do a short Q&A with Karin.
The DSU Livestock Stakeholder Advisory Committee provides the Diagnostic Services Unit at UCVM with reliable and continuous information on the changing needs of Alberta’s livestock business, industries, and communities. Advisory committee members are also a source of input for service development, review/evaluation activities and resource identification.
UCVM reached out to various livestock organization to populate the Advisory Committee. I began as ABP’s representative because as Lead, Beef Production and Extension for ABP there is a very nice fit with several research and animal health and welfare initiatives that I manage. I’ve always had a passion for diagnostics, I find the science to develop new, cost-effective, and accurate tools for diagnosis and treatment in beef cattle production fascinating. We’ve had a scarcity of diagnostic services in Alberta for a very long time, advocating for increased diagnostic capacity is something that ABP has been doing since before I started with ABP in 2011, and I was just so excited to finally see some movement in this area.
I will be Co-Chairing the Advisory Committee along with the Associate Dean, Clinical Practice, and the Director of the Diagnostic Services Unit. The primary role of the Advisory Committee is to establish relationships and dialogue between the UCVM’s DSU and provincial livestock stakeholders to facilitate exchange of information, foster collaboration and inform the evolution of livestock diagnostics in Alberta. My primary role, along with my Co-Chairs will be to promote that information exchange and keep the broader livestock community aware of activities and opportunities at the DSU, along with identifying strategic partnerships that will further the mandate of the DSU.
I want producers to know how important diagnostics are to enhancing and protecting animal health and welfare and to take advantage of these services to improve their own herd health management. This is not only determining cause of death, but also outbreak investigations, and the ability to enhance antimicrobial stewardship by ensuring the right antimicrobials are being administered for the right illnesses. The provision of these services in Alberta, after such a long time of going without, will have a clear benefit for producers, by expanding the type of services offered as well as potentially reducing turnaround time to get results because more diagnostic tests can be performed in province instead of having to send samples to labs in other jurisdictions. Utilization of these services also improve our surveillance efforts for new, emerging, or re-emerging diseases, as the DSU is also part of several surveillance networks, like the Western Canadian Animal Health Network.
Of course, I also want to help to ensure ongoing, stable resourcing for the DSU into the future, so producers have access to world class diagnostic services permanently.