Livestock industry loses a voice in Scott Hurd

I had the pleasure of interacting briefly with Scott Hurd as he began to set up a food safety risk assessment program at Iowa State after his time at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The following obituary is from

Scott Hurd was a veterinarian, a civil servant, a university professor and a strong industry voice on livestock issues including antibiotics use in food animals and scott.hurd.mar.14animal welfare. He died last week and will be greatly missed.

Hurd spoke on behalf of animal agriculture in the media and social media, including National Public Radio, USA Today, Huffington Post, and the Dr. Oz Show. Hurd maintained his own blog site called “Hurd Health.” A year ago, he started a blog onMeatingplace titled, “The Gentle Vet.”

“Dr. Hurd was an outspoken champion for truth relative to farm animal and food safety issues,” said Kay Johnson Smith, CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance.  “He diligently corrected misinformation and the misrepresentation of the facts surrounding issues such as the important role of antibiotics in caring for animals, and he made complex issues such as food safety risk assessment understandable to the layman.  He was passionate, personable and enormously respected.  His passing is a great loss for all of us in animal agriculture.”

“Scott believed in principle and acted on his beliefs.  He was a critical thinker who radiated pure joy in deciphering and sharing in simple language the complex notions of probability, risk, and consequence,” said Guy Loneragan, veterinary epidemiologist and professor of food safety and public health at Texas Tech University. “He could see and revel in both the serious and humorous sides of any issue.”

Loneragan, who worked with Hurd on several projects, went on to say,  “[Scott] could be softly spoken yet was not afraid to pound the table with his fist to emphasize a point when emphasis was needed.  He was clearly a man of conviction yet above all else, he was a family man and all too happy to include anecdotes of his family – particularly his many children – in his presentations.  He will be missed on so many levels and by so many people.”

Hurd started his veterinary career at a dairy practice in South Central, Pennsylvania. This was one of the first practices in the country to computerize their herd health records and the data collected in this program piqued his interest in epidemiology. As a result, he earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology and economics from Michigan State University in 1990, after graduating from veterinary school at Iowa State in 1982.

Hurd spent 15 years of his career in government service, working in three different branches of the USDA. He was also appointed USDA’s deputy acting under secretary for food safety in 2008. There he served as the country’s highest-ranking food safety veterinarian and policy advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture.

Hurd was most recently an associate professor at Iowa State University’s Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine and director of the Food Risk Modeling and Policy Lab at Iowa State.

“Iowa State University and global animal agriculture has lost a wonderful gentleman, a world class epidemiologist and food scientist, a talented communicator and a tireless advocate for helping livestock farmers and the meat industry continuously improve best practices to feed the world,” said Patrick Halbur, executive director of the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. 

Hurd is survived by his wife, Susan, his seven sons and his daughter. Visitation will be at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Ames, Iowa, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 6. Funeral mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 7.

A memorial fund is being set up to support parenting and family missions programs through the Regnum Christi Mission Corps, a youth formation and leadership training program. Donations can be written to Dr. Scott Hurd’s Charitable Memorial Fund and sent to the family at 3275 400th Street, Roland, IA 50236.