The U.S. House has passed the Veterinary Services Investment Act (HR 3519), which authorizes the secretary of agriculture to award competitive grants to develop, implement and sustain veterinary services in communities all across the country where they are needed most.
The bill, which was first introduced in July 2009, now goes to the Senate.
The American Veterinary Medical Association issued a media alert today applauding the passage.
“We are excited and grateful our representatives passed this bill,” said Larry Kornegay, DVM, president of the AVMA. “It is obvious our representatives in Washington, D.C., have begun to understand the critical role of large animal, mixed animal and public health veterinarians play in protecting livestock and ultimately consumers in the United States.
“The Veterinary Services Investment Act will offer grants to draw more veterinarians to shortage areas by helping them establish or expand practices with new equipment and technology. We need these veterinarians to coordinate veterinary services and enhance food safety and food protection systems.”
The legislation provides grants to relocate or recruit veterinarians and veterinary technicians into shortage areas, support veterinary students seeking training in food safety or food-supply veterinary medicine. It also supports continuing education courses to help strengthen veterinary service and enhance food safety, among other programs.
“Large animal veterinarians, in particular, are integral to small, rural communities,” said Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), sponsor of the bill. “It is absolutely necessary for the farmers, ranchers and those who care for animals of all shapes and sizes to have access to qualified local veterinary clinics. Unfortunately, too many rural communities don’t have this necessary resource. The Veterinary Services Investment Act will make a difference.”