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After a six-month, nationwide search, a new state veterinarian has been named for New Mexico. Ralph Zimmerman, DVM, will lead the Office of the State Veterinarian after seven years as head veterinarian at the Albuquerque Biopark Zoo.
The Office of the State Veterinarian resides within the New Mexico Livestock Board. Zimmerman and his staff of field veterinarians will work with the Livestock Board and various other government and private-sector partners to ensure New Mexico remains free of diseases affecting livestock. The office is critical in responding to and ending outbreaks such as the equine herpesvirus outbreak that occurred at a southern New Mexico racetrack earlier this year.
“In addition to his scientific background and expertise in both regulatory medicine and private practice, Dr. Zimmerman brings extensive experience in personnel management and public relations to this key position in the State of New Mexico,” said Bill Bunce, executive director of the New Mexico Livestock Board. “We all look forward to working cohesively on the myriad state, domestic, and international issues that impact our livestock industry.”
Throughout his career, Zimmerman has worked with animals both small and large, including dairy and beef cattle, horses, goats and more. He graduated at the top of his class at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies. He first moved to New Mexico in 1987.
Zimmerman’s first day as state veterinarian will be Monday, Aug. 15. He said his goal is to have open, honest communication with the state’s livestock producers.
“My job is to protect and promote the New Mexico livestock industry, and I intend to meet with the different producer groups to get a feel for what their needs are, and how the New Mexico Livestock Board and the State Veterinarian can better meet them,” Zimmerman said. “We may not always agree, but an open dialogue, with all treated evenly and respectfully, will better serve the industry’s needs.”
New Mexico’s livestock sector is the top contributor to the state’s agricultural economy. The sale of New Mexico-produced, unprocessed livestock products (including meat animals, milk, wool, mohair and honey) amounted to nearly $3 billion in 2014, the most recent year for which such data are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That figure becomes larger when some of these items are processed into high-value products, such as when milk is turned into cheese and when wool is spun into yarn.