Cameron Schmitt grew up watching his veterinarian father, David Schmitt, treat cows, cats, horses, dogs and any other patients his clients brought to the clinic. That experience inspired him to pursue a career as a veterinarian, but his practice is far different and more specialized than his father’s.
An Iowa native, Schmitt earned his DVM and MS degrees from Iowa State University. He now is a part owner and member of the senior management team with Pipestone Holdings, a large swine-management company based in Pipestone, Minn. The company operates offices in Pipestone, Independence, Iowa, Ottumwa, Iowa, and Shanghai, China. Schmitt manages the Independence office, which employs four other veterinarians.
The Pipestone System began as a rural mixed-animal practice in 1942, and in 1989 engaged in a new business of managing swine operations. The company now operates 60 sow farms, with about 200,000 sows, on behalf of shareholder producers who purchase weaned pigs to grow in their operations.
Pipestone veterinarians, nutritionists and other professionals also provide consulting services for numerous large swine operations outside the Pipestone System.
So while Schmitt’s veterinary practice is more specialized than his father’s, he also is involved in all aspects of swine production, from the design of the facilities to financial management in addition to herd-health systems.
“I am excited for the potential that we see in efficient pork production,” Schmitt said. “During my career, I have seen sow farm efficiency improve by about 25%. As we reduce the impacts of disease and continue to improve genetics, management, and facilities, the potential exists to improve by another 25% to 50%.”
“It became apparent early on in veterinary college that Cameron had the interest and desire to question things, and the inner drive to be involved in answering those questions,” said Pat Halbur, who serves as professor and chairman, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, and executive director of the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “Another thing that I appreciate about Cameron is that although his clinic and their clients are on the cutting edge of food-supply veterinary medicine, he never gets too comfortable. He is always pursuing problems and assessing new and better technologies to move to the next level.”