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New Michigan state veterinarian settling in despite new oversight


LANSING, Mich. — Michigan native Dr. Nora Wineland recently returned home as the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s state veterinarian. She replaced Dr. James Averill, who is now the department’s deputy director.

Wineland assumed the new role Nov. 5, 2018, and said her first couple months on the job have “been a whirlwind. We have a lot of different issues and a lot of things to get up to speed on, as far as how things work in Michigan and what some of the issues are.”

Her job is to protect, promote and regulate animal health, and her extensive experience supports these objectives. She earned her bachelor’s degree in veterinary science as well as her doctor of veterinary medicine from Michigan State University. She also received a master of science degree from Colorado State University.

Upon completion of veterinary school, she worked at the Michigan Department of Agriculture before moving on the USDA’s Veterinary Services in Ohio. Before coming back to Michigan, Wineland lived in Missouri, where she served as the director of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Center for Animal Welfare since January 2010.

Prior to that, she served as director of USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System in Fort Collins, Colo., from 1995-2010. “Now I’ve come back full circle to Michigan,” she said.

“There is a lot going on here. Tuberculosis is a big issue within the state, and chronic wasting disease. These have been front and center on my plate,” she noted. “With hunting season, there has been a lot of surveillance going on and detections and keeping up with that and what that means for our cervid industry.”

Wineland said being prepared for emergency situations and building relationships with a variety of industry officials are priorities in the new year.

“There are a lot of international emergencies with exotic diseases. With the recent diagnosis of exotic Newcastle disease in California, we are preparing our poultry industry here for that, as well as educating producers about African swine fever,” she explained.

“There are a lot of industry activities. I’m getting to know more of the key players and working together with them to be prepared for what might be coming up. With the new administration, working on issues with our regulations and laws, and getting some of those things squared away is also on the agenda.”

According to Averill, while the state’s political administration is changing, daily activities remain much the same. “When it comes to changes in the administration, there are laws and regulations the staff are here to enforce and make sure folks are following,” he said.

“Really, the day-to-day activities are not going to change with the changing administration. However, what might change are some of the areas the new administration wants to focus on that are going to be impacting agriculture, and what is agriculture’s role.”

Overall, Wineland is looking forward to “getting my feet on the ground, getting to know the people and the industries and the issues and finding ways to work with them to help really make things better.

“We’re just a phone call away from an emergency, or something we’ve never seen before,” she added.