Dr. Tony Forshey, 69, Ohio’s state veterinarian and chief of animal health at the Ohio Department of Agriculture — a man known as a committed servant leader — died Nov. 26.
Forshey, of Hebron, Ohio, who grew up on a farm in Noble County, received his doctor of veterinary medicine from Ohio State University in 1977. He practiced veterinary medicine for 27 years, before joining the department of agriculture in 2005.
He had an interest in swine production, and served on multiple major swine health advisory boards, including Elanco Animal Health, Pfizer Animal Health, Newport Laboratories and Schering Plough.
Forshey held his most recent roles at the department of agriculture for 15 years. He also briefly served as an interim director for the department, from November 2011 to February 2012.
“Dr. Forshey had a passion and commitment to agriculture and animal health,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda, in a Nov. 26 statement. “It was a privilege to know Dr. Forshey. He left a lasting mark on the Ohio Department of Agriculture, our state and our nation.”
As the state veterinarian, Forshey served on the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and oversaw the process of creating the board’s standards, which went into effect in 2011. He told Farm and Dairy in 2019 that few things had changed since the standards first passed, adding, “I think we got it right the first time.”
“He was very committed,” Roger High, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation director of livestock policy and executive director for the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, told Farm and Dairy in a Nov. 29 phone call. High served with Forshey on several agricultural boards and groups over the years. “That was his life, and that was his job.”
Forshey led not only at the state level, but at the national level, as well. He served on the board of directors for the U.S. Animal Health Association, and as the chairman of the board of directors and executive committee for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
His multiple state leadership roles included serving as an ex-officio member of the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Farm Bureau’s boards of directors, and a member of the Ohio Swine Health Advisory Board, the steering committee of the Ohio Pork Industry Center, the Ohio Pork Producer Council’s Producer Education and Swine Health and Research Committees and many more.
He was also an adjunct associate professor with Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in preventative medicine, for the past 10 years.
“He was just a good person that will certainly be missed by the agriculture community,” High said.
In an emailed statement to Farm and Dairy, Cheryl Day, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council, said in addition to caring for animals, Forshey cared for the farmers and students he worked with.
“Many follow his servant leadership and repeat his words of wisdom -— ‘there are only 24 hours in the day, make them count,’” Day said. “As a leader in the swine industry, Dr. Forshey lived his words every day. He made every minute count. Forshey never backed off from a challenge … Ohio’s livestock and poultry producers are blessed to have had such a talented leader and friend to serve our industry.”
Forshey was highly respected in his industry at the state and national levels. He was inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Council’s Hall of Fame in 2020. In an announcement of that year’s inductees, the council cited Forshey’s focus on swine herd health and disease prevention, and mentorship of students at Ohio State as some of its reasons for honoring him.
In the 2020 Ohio Ag Council video interview about his induction into the hall of fame, Forshey said most of the swine veterinarians in Ohio today have either worked for, or with him, at some point in their careers.
“I’ll tell you, it makes me very proud, very proud to know that they’ve gone on to be successful and are good swine veterinarians,” he said in the interview.
Being on multiple state and national boards allowed him to listen to and learn from “the best of the best.” While serving on boards took up a lot of time, it also gave him better results with his work on farms in Ohio, he said.
“Ohio producers are the best ever,” Forshey said in the interview. “You’ve always been the best producers in the country. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Other awards and honors Forshey received over the years include Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s Chairman’s Award in 2012 and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2010 and Meritorious Award for service to the state’s swine industry in 1997, among others.
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