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Keep livestock healthy in Farm Bill

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gordon Wenk was right on track with his recent Detroit News column supporting an Animal Pest and Disease Disaster Prevention Program in the next Farm Bill (“Keep Michigan’s farm animals healthy,” May 2).

Keeping livestock healthy is a top priority for anyone in animal agriculture, including Michigan’s 2,000 pig farmers. We’re always working to further improve biosecurity using the latest technology and best practices.

The 2015 outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the poultry industry demonstrated the high stakes involved. While the outbreak did not affect Michigan, it led to the deaths of tens of millions of hens and turkeys, while taking a massive economic and emotional toll on farmers. It was tragic and cannot be repeated.

By investing in coordinated prevention efforts, close scientific surveillance and a “vaccine bank” to ensure effective rapid response in case of a disease outbreak, the next Farm Bill is a historic opportunity to safeguard American agriculture against diseases that could devastate family farms.

Mary Kelpinski, CEO

Michigan Pork Producers Association

Preventing suicide is our responsibility

The recent heroic acts of semitrailer drivers who parked their vehicles in a row under an Interstate 696 overpass to protect a man who planned to jump shows suicide prevention is everyone’s business. When an individual is battling a mental health crisis, we all must listen — and act. Thankfully police and truck drivers took swift action to shorten the distance the man would fall if he jumped. The man eventually walked off the bridge safely on his own accord and was hospitalized for mental health treatment.

As May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to be aware that the months between March-June have the highest suicide and suicide attempt rates.

As the U.S. suicide rate faces a 30 year high, know the signs of distress: Talking about wanting to die or being a burden to others, expressing feelings of hopelessness, feeling trapped and in pain, increased substance use, talking about feeling hopeless, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing, showing rage or talking about seeking revenge, and extreme mood swings. If someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Ben Robinson, president and CEO

Rose Hill Center

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