Animal Health & Diagnostic Commission
The Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission (AHDC) was created by Act 148 of 1988 to be a departmental administrative commission.
The Legislative findings and intent of this act were:
- Veterinary diagnostic support is the linchpin of any network of veterinary epidemic intelligence and vital to the maintenance and well-being of a modern animal industry. Many diseases have potentially serious consequences for animal and human health.
- Much of the research work that is done on animal diseases has a correlating effect on human disease research.
- The General Assembly has determined there is a need to facilitate an integrated approach to the diagnosis and investigation of disease in farm animals. The avian flu virus brought to the General Assembly's attention that there is not a laboratory in Pennsylvania that can deal with this type of virus, and Pennsylvania poultry producers had to send all samples to Ames, Iowa.
- The General Assembly believes it is important that there be diagnostic capabilities in Pennsylvania since the state is one of the top animal-producing states in the country, specifically in the poultry and dairy sectors.
- There is no doubt that the research laboratories at The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania teaching facilities are of utmost importance since they correlate to the medical facilities at both of these universities. To facilitate this program, it is important that each diagnostic laboratory be linked together via the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) to facilitate an integrated approach to the diagnosis and
investigation of disease in farm animals.
- It is also the intent of the General Assembly to provide resources and a cadre of specialists to allow planned interventions in disease outbreaks rather than crisis interventions. A predictable funding basis is the only manner in which to achieve these necessary laboratory research and diagnostic capabilities. The Act included the creation of commission members to include:
Three (3) accredited veterinarians appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of a majority of the members elected to the Senate. The accredited veterinarians on the Commission include Dr. Brian K. Reed, Vice Chair of the AHDC, as well as one of its governance and diary liaisons. Dr. Reed has experience with traditional agricultural veterinary medicine and knowledge of current economic trends in the dairy industry. Dr. James Holt is a governance, One Health, equine, and camelid liaison. Dr. Holt practices traditional agricultural veterinary medicine and studies current economic trends in the equine industry. Dr. Meghann Pierdon, Chair of the Research Committee and a liaison to the state's swine industry, is trained in traditional agricultural veterinary medicine and stays abreast of current trends in the swine industry.
The Act also states that six (6) active farmers appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of a majority of the members elected to the Senate shall sit on the AHDC. In appointing farm members, the Act charged the Governor to consider nominees suggested by statewide farm organizations, the poultry industry and equine and livestock breeding organizations. Presently the active farmer members include Melvin C. Gehman, Poultry Health Committee Chair, who is active within the poultry industry and supports organic poultry farming; Thomas A. Sollenberger, a swine producer and one of the AHDC's swine and small ruminant liaisons; Duane L. Hertzler, dairy and aquaculture liaison, who is active in the dairy industry; Mrs. Sheryl Long Vanco, Co-Chair of the Research Committee and liaison for dairy and aquaculture, who is active in the dairy industry and currently serves on the Pennsylvania Farm Service Agency State Committee; and Michael H. Firestine, organizational, beef and governance liaison, who is the owner and operator of a registered Hereford cattle and Hampshire sheep farm.
The Commission meets six (6) times a year.