The American Veterinary Medical Association penned an action alert press release on Monday, May 9, urging veterinarians to contact their Senators to be original cosponsors of the Veterinary Services Investment Act.
Senators Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Debbie Stabenow D-Mich., are currently circulating a ‘Dear Colleague Letter’ in support of Veterinary Services Investment Act. This bill will help address the nation’s most pressing veterinary needs, according to its authors.
The bill was first introduced during the last session of Congress and is now being reintroduced. Justification for the bill is the shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians working with the U.S. food supply, food and public safety.
More than 1,300 counties have less than one farm veterinarian per 25,000 farm animals, while more than 500 counties have at least 5,000 farm animals but no veterinarians living there to treat them. More veterinarians are needed in nearly every area of veterinary medicine but particularly in large animal medicine to treat livestock and poultry, according to the AVMA.
Veterinarians practicing public health are needed for the first line of defense on disease surveillance and food safety, the bill's authors state.
The bill would establish a grant program under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist states in addressing their own unique veterinary workforce needs. These needs may include recruiting and retaining practicing veterinarians and veterinary technicians to work in underserved areas, bolstering knowledge in food safety/protection and food animal medicine.