Five questions with State Veterinarian Dr. Mike Martin

by | Sep 9, 2021

Dr. Mike Martin

On Aug. 1, 2021, Dr. Mike Martin stepped into his new role as State Veterinarian. Previously, he served as the Poultry Section Head for the NCDA&CS Veterinary Division. In that role he had oversight of all poultry program operations within the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In his new role as State Veterinarian, Martin will oversee livestock health programs, poultry health programs, animal welfare and the veterinary diagnostic lab system.

“Dr. Martin brings a wealth of expertise, both scientific and regulatory, to his new role. In fact, he is likely one of the most qualified candidates to manage the science of the State Veterinarian’s position.” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Livestock agriculture accounts for nearly 70 percent of farm cash receipts in North Carolina. We rank first in the nation in poultry and egg cash receipts, second in hogs and pigs as well as turkeys. I am confident in Dr. Martin’s ability to be a strong leader for our livestock industry.”

Martin is a 1997 graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also completed a Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine in 1999 and a poultry medicine residency in 2001, both at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. After several years as assistant professor of Animal Science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and as a principal research scientist at Embrex Inc., in Research Triangle Park, Dr. Martin joined the faculty of the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Population Health and Pathobiology. In 2012, Martin became an associate professor within Population Health and Pathobiology and served in that capacity until 2012 when he joined the department.

Dr. Martin at a poultry education tour at S&N Enterprises in Pinetops

Check out the five questions below to learn a little about Dr. Martin.

Congratulations on one month on the job! How is it going?

“Fantastic. I have been getting to know people and all the different organizations as they relate to my new role as state veterinarian. This has included meeting with and variety of stakeholders including the N.C. Pork Council, Veterinary Medical Board, State Animal Response Team, N.C. Cattlemen’s Association, the N.C. Egg Association and the N.C. Poultry Federation.

“I am proud to represent the Veterinary Division in this new role. We have a tremendous group of people that work in the office and in the field. I look forward to supporting them in their roles.”

Any challenges during the first month on the job?

“The very first week we had the detection of African Swine Fever in the Dominican Republic. The presence of ASF in this hemisphere is concerning. Luckily, we already had restrictions banning the import of pork products from the Dominican Republic. Now more than ever we need to practice biosecurity on our farms and keep it as strong as possible. We are working with the N.C. Pork Council and our other industry groups to build awareness of the need for a high level of biosecurity.

“I am fortunate that we recently hired Dr. Catherine Harris as the Livestock Health Veterinarian. Dr. Harris is familiar with livestock production systems and has experience working with livestock producers and veterinarians. She is a good fit for our livestock industry and will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the department.”

Obviously African Swine Fever is a concern for animal agriculture, what else do you see as concerns for our industry?

“I see it as a combination of things. Obviously, there are disease concerns, African Swine Fever, Exotic New Castle, Avian Influenza and others that we must continue to remain vigilant in our biosecurity and disease testing protocols. These are diseases we are constantly trying to keep out of North Carolina.

“Our other issue is visibility. The public doesn’t understand agriculture and the benefits it provides society. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to farming and how food makes it from the farm to the grocery store.
As we get into disease events, it is a lot harder to understand the impact of the disease and, in many cases, this can create undo fear about the safety of our food supply. We need to educate the public about animal agriculture and clear up the many misconceptions on how our animals are cared for. I believe that a well-educated public helps create a better appreciation of agriculture and makes our industry even stronger.”

Can you tell us about how you got interested in veterinary medicine and how that led you to where you are today?

“In high school I worked for my best friend’s parents on a contract broiler farm. At UC Davis I developed a passion for the biology and ecology of birds. Basically, anything with feathers I liked learning about. My advisors strongly recommended veterinarian school. My first job out of veterinary school was working in a small animal and exotics clinic, which was recommended to me by some advisors before I pursued poultry. After that first year, I went back to college to get a Masters in Preventative Veterinary Medicine and completed a poultry medicine residency.

“After working for a couple of years developing animal vaccines and teaching for a couple more years at Southern Animal University in Carbondale, I worked at N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine for 13 years as the main clinical poultry instructor and Head of the Poultry Residency Program. I enjoyed the academic side of veterinary medicine. While at NCSU, I developed a close relationship with the NC Department of Agriculture and its Poultry Health Programs team. It was a very positive relationship and a good way to train our future veterinarians. When the position of the Director of Poultry Health Programs at NCDA&CS opened four years, I jumped at the chance to work with the people here and I am excited to continue to work for the Department in my new role.”

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

“I like to go hiking when I can. I also enjoy spending time with my kids. My passion is cooking. When we have family get togethers I usually coordinate the menu as well as do the cooking.”