Advocating for Academic Veterinary Medicine

The Governmental Affairs program works to secure resources in support of academic veterinary medicine. This includes informing and influencing policymakers and their staff on important issues that affect veterinary medicine’s impact on public health, including biomedical research, agriculture, and animal welfare, as well as both direct and indirect support for colleges of veterinary medicine.

Fall 2017 Advocacy Newsletter
Summer 2017 Advocacy Newsletter

A number of AAVMC member institutions have developed infographics and other materials which demonstrate the critical role academic veterinary medicine plays in agricultural productivity, public health and economic development in the states they serve. Please click link below to examine some of those materials.

See examples of member institution materials

A Sustained and Collaborative Effort

Working closely with the government relations officers who serve our members, we monitor, review and respond to federal legislation or regulations that affect veterinary medical education. This includes maintaining a continuous presence on Capitol Hill to inform decision-makers and the public about the critical role that veterinary medical education plays. It contributes to society’s overall quality of life by educating veterinarians who advance medical knowledge, help to recognize and prevent the spread of diseases and pathogens, and protect our nation’s food supply.

We reach out to all branches of government to encourage the development of policies that will benefit veterinary medical education, and to explain the many ways in which such support will also enhance animal and public health.

With input from our Advocacy Committee, the governmental affairs program identifies and addresses critical issues in veterinary medical education, such as the need for increased diversity and the too-burdensome debt load often carried by graduates. Our work includes supporting initiatives designed to encourage a wider spectrum of students, to reduce veterinary medical student debt through public and private support and loan-forgiveness programs, and to recognize the contributions that veterinarians make to our public health system.

Finally, we work to keep the importance of veterinary medical education in the public’s eye through media outreach, public events and Hill briefings that highlight the crucial role that academic veterinary medicine plays in advancing society’s well-being.

Legislators Form Veterinary Medicine Caucus

The AAVMC works with the first-ever, bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Formed in March 2013, the caucus aims to increase awareness of the importance of veterinary medicine to research, public health, animal health and welfare, food safety and our overall economy. The caucus is led by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who are both veterinarians. In March 2013, the congressmen invited fellow representatives to join the caucus, and the caucus continues to underscore the critical role the veterinary medical profession plays in a healthy society. See a list of caucus members and learn more.

AAVMC Visits to NIH Highlight Importance of Academic Veterinary Medicine in Research

AAVMC staff and member representatives meet regularly with National Institutes of Health (NIH) leaders, as part of an ongoing outreach effort to share the AAVMC’s story and educate many high, institute-level NIH officials about research activity at member institutions and the importance of continued funding and collaboration. During these meetings, AAVMC members learn about potential areas where our member schools can better engage with the NIH and also potential opportunities for DVMs as NIH continues to examine its biomedical workforce needs. In recent meetings, the AAVMC has engaged with directors or deputy directors of National Center for Advancing Translational Science, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Cancer Institute, Center for Scientific Review, and Office of Research Infrastructure Programs.

AAVMC Conducts Legislative Briefings

The AAVMC regularly conducts legislative briefings for Capitol Hill Congressional members and staff, often working in conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). For example, a 2016 legislative briefing titled “Deadly Mosquitoes and other Dangers: How Veterinary Medicine Can Improve Our Response to Zika and other Dangers” drew about 60 legislative staffers and other officials to hear three leading scientists discuss the role veterinary medical research plays in protecting people from infectious diseases like Zika and influenza.

AAVMC Participates in the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research

AAVMC is a member of the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research, known as NC-FAR. National C-FAR serves as a forum and a unified voice in support of sustaining and increasing public investment at the national level in food and agricultural research, extension and education. National CFAR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consensus-based and customer-led coalition established in 2001 that brings food, agriculture, nutrition, conservation and natural resource organizations together with the food and agriculture research and extension community. Learn more about National C-FAR.

AAVMC Forms Public Policy Faculty Fellows Program

The Public Policy Faculty Fellows Program, newly instituted in 2014, is designed to bring member institutions’ faculty members to Washington D.C. to develop leadership skills in the advocacy arena, explore the importance of public policy decisions to the profession, and gain overall knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process at the federal level. Each candidate must agree to advise and mentor future fellows and special consideration is given to nominees who have exhibited leadership skills, especially in the areas of advocacy and government. Learn more.

View the AAVMC's Government Relations Brochure.

Advocacy Priorities

Continued support for the Veterinary Services Grant Program
. The Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) was authorized in the last Farm Bill. It is a new USDA program that will allow recipients to establish or expand veterinary practices, establish mobile veterinary facilities, recruit veterinarians, technicians and students, and support continuing education and extension programs, among other important activities. In FY 2016, the VSGP received initial funding of $2.5 million, and we are currently working with USDA to complete the regulations for implementing the program.

Support increased appropriations for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP
). The VMLRP recruits critically needed livestock and public health veterinarians to practice in areas of the country where they promote food safety and assist communities with agricultural needs. Funding for this program was at $5 million for the past two years. Educational debt has continued to increase, and the applications for this program have continued to grow as well.

Support increased appropriations for research into antibiotic resistant bacteria. The President has proposed a National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) in order to protect public health. The current budget request includes nearly $1.2 billion (number may change) to improve antibiotic stewardship, strengthen risk assessment, surveillance and reporting capabilities, and drive research and innovation in both the human and animal sectors.

Support the Global Health Security Agenda. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with other federal agencies, other nations, international organizations and public and private stakeholders. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks, detect threats early, and respond rapidly and effectively by coordinating international efforts.

For any questions, please contact Kevin Cain, Director of Governmental Relations at 202-371-9195 or

Governmental Affairs Initiatives - Appropriations Requests for FY 2017

United States Department of Agriculture

Veterinary Services Grant Program (Sect. 7104 of the Agriculture Act of 2014) -
$2.5 million

This is a new program created by the Farm Bill. It authorizes $10 million per year for a competitive research, extension and education grant program designed to ensure the provision of professional veterinary medical services in underserved, rural areas of the nation. The program was funded for the first time in FY 2016, at $2.5 million.

The Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) will help relieve federally designated veterinary shortage situations by supporting private veterinary practices engaged in public health activities and veterinarians who are participating in or have successfully completed a Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) contract or similar state program. VSGP complements the VMLRP by helping large animal veterinarians become established in rural communities.

Section 1433 Formula Funds for Animal Health and Research - $10 million

Animal Health and Disease Research funds provide essential support for research on diseases affecting food-producing animals. These funds are the most important source of research support for departments of veterinary science at U.S. universities.

In the Agriculture Act of 2014 (PL 113-79) this program was expanded to include a competitive grants component that focuses on food security, One Health, and stewardship. The AAVMC would like to see robust initial funding for this critical program expansion.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) - $700 million

AFRI grants support research, education, and extension and integrated initiatives addressing issues of national, regional and multi- state importance to the safety, sustainability, and quality of American agriculture, including farm efficiency and profitability, ranching, renewable energy, forestry (both urban and agroforestry), aquaculture, rural communities and entrepreneurship, human nutrition, food safety, biotechnology, and conventional breeding. Our request is equal to the President’s FY 2016 budget request.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) - $6.5 million

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) was created in 2003 by the National Veterinary Medical Services Act (NVMSA) and is a student loan repayment program for veterinarians who practice in underserved areas. Loan repayment is essential to address shortages of veterinarians practicing food supply medicine and public health.

VMLRP incentivizes specialization in food animal medicine, food safety and public health. Continued funding will permit the USDA to select veterinarians who will agree to practice food supply medicine and veterinary public health in federally designated veterinary shortage situations. Funding has been essentially level for several years, so this request recognizes the tremendous increases in student debt levels, and the need for additional debt forgiveness.

National Animal Health Laboratory Network – $15 million

The National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) infrastructure plays a critical role in rapidly detecting and responding to foreign and domestic disease outbreaks and animal health emergencies that threaten our nation’s food supply and public health. The Agriculture Act of 2014 (PL 113-79) gave the NAHLN its own budget line for the first time, and authorized $15 million per year. Given the need in this area, we are requesting funding equal to the full authorization.

Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) – $2.5 million

FARAD is a congressional-mandated risk-management program that is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). FARAD's focus is limited to food animal species exclusively. The program is maintained by a consortium of universities, including University of California-Davis (UCD), University of Florida (UF), Kansas State University (KSU) and North Carolina State University (NCSU). FARAD's primary mission is to prevent or mitigate illegal or harmful residues of drugs, pesticides, bio-toxins and other chemical agents that may contaminate foods of animal origin.

National Institutes of Health

$34.5 billion

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the nation’s federal health research agency, and the premier government-funded research agency worldwide. Nearly ninety percent of NIH funding flows to universities and other research institutions in the form of competitive grants. NIH is certainly grateful for the increase that it received in FY 2016, and the health community at large has rallied around this request as reasonable and one that allows NIH to maintain a minimum number of grants and awards.

Health Resources Services Administration

Title VII and VIII Health Professions Workforce Programs--$492 million

The health professions programs, authorized under Title VII of the Public Health Service Act provide education and training opportunities to a wide variety of health care professionals and students. By educating and training an array of health professionals in interdisciplinary, community-based settings, the Title VII programs enhance the supply, diversity, and distribution of the workforce and address the deficits in the supply of health professionals.

Academic veterinary medical Institutions benefit from Title VII and VIII public health and preventive medicine programs that help address the growing shortages of public health professionals. Additionally, a public health loan repayment program will provide incentives for students to pursue public health careers.

Congressional Actions

HR 3095/S 440, Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act - SUPPORT

Each of these bills would amend the Internal Revenue Code to make VMLRP awards exempt from gross income and employment taxes. Awards are currently taxed at 39 percent. Those taxes are paid by USDA directly to the Treasury on behalf of the award recipient. Tax exemption for VMLRP awards would result in one additional veterinarian for every three based on current appropriations.

HR 3185/S 1858, The Equality Act of 2015—SUPPORT

The Equality Act of 2015 would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections tha ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. The bill was introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in the House, and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate.

Executive Branch Activities

Implementation of USDA’s Centers of Excellence

Although re-authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress has not yet provided an appropriation for this program as of FY 2016. The AAVMC will work with USDA to formally recognize and/or certify current and future centers of excellence.

Implementation of USDA’s Veterinary Services Grant Program

USDA will soon promulgate regulations for the new program. To facilitate this process, AVMA and AAVMC have created a working group to solicit member input and ideas on how best to design and implement the program. This group has created a white paper that will inform the USDA, as it creates the regulations, as well as appropriations staff in the House and Senate.

Implementation of the President’s Executive Order on Antibiotic Resistance

Two years ago, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report entitled “Combating Antibiotic Resistance” which laid out several recommendations to address the problem. President Obama also issued an executive order directing various federal agencies and departments to develop a specific action plan by mid-February of 2014 that would address antibiotic resistance and protect public health.

As a result of these actions, the AAVMC, together with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), created the Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture. The goal of the task force was to advise the federal government on a research agenda and to help publicly disseminate information on the judicious use of antibiotics in production agriculture. The task force was a collaborative effort whose members are well-positioned to advise the Obama administration as it considers strategies for addressing the serious public health threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. The task force issued this report in late 2015.

Support the White House Global Health Security Agenda

In 2014, 44 participating countries developed 11 Action Packages in support of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). They are designed to outline steps to prevent outbreaks, detect threats in real time, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats. We believe strongly that academic veterinary medicine can and must play a central role in this agenda, which puts a priority on areas including combating antibiotic resistant bacteria, improving biosafety and biosecurity on a global basis, and preventing bioterrorism. There are three main areas of funding for this agenda, including: CDC Global Health Strategy, USAID Global Health Initiative, and the Fogarty International Center at NIH.

Educate Federal Agency Leadership on the Full Spectrum of Academic Veterinary Medicine

The AAVMC works hard to ensure that its audience on Capitol Hill and federal agencies understand that the impact of veterinary medicine on human health and wellbeing is far greater than the provision of clinical care for food and companion animals. AAVMC members and representatives will continue to champion the “One Health Initiative” to expand interdisciplinary collaborations in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.

AAVMC staff will also continue to work with consultants from CRD Associates to establish stronger, ongoing relationships with staff within several federal agencies, initially concentrating on NIH but eventually moving to other agencies as well.

Expand the pool of biomedical postdoctoral fellowships and ensure that veterinary biomedical postdoctoral researchers have the same opportunities for loan repayment afforded to other health professionals at NIH

The AAVMC will work with NIH to expand the shrinking pool of postdoctoral training opportunities. The AAVMC will also work to ensure that veterinary graduates have the same opportunities to compete for the existing positions available to other health professionals. The FY 2016 Labor HHS Appropriations bills included report language that would direct NIH to continue to publicize the program to potential applicants throughout all of the institutes and centers at AAVMC’s request.

Increase the opportunities for AAVMC members to participate in HRSA’s diversity training programs

AAVMC member institutions are eligible to participate in the Title VII diversity programs, including the Centers of Excellence (COE) program, the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), the Minority Faculty Fellowship Program and the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students Program. These programs are critical to building workforce capacity, but AAVMC member institutions participate in these programs on a limited basis. The AAVMC must educate HRSA leadership on the role the veterinary workforce plays in public health and preventing disease outbreaks. AAVMC will provide input to HRSA as guidance documents are developed and assistance to AAVMC member institutions in crafting high-quality applications.

Explore opportunities to participate in the HRSA Public Health and Preventive Medicine programs

Given the impact veterinary medicine has on public health and disease prevention, members should be connected to these programs. Both the Public Health Traineeships and Public Health Training Centers fund schools of public health and other programs that provide training in public health.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

AAVMC Announces 2018 Professional Excellence Award Honorees

read more Tuesday, November 21, 2017

AAVMC Reports Applicant Pool for Veterinary College Up 6% Over Last Year

read more Friday, September 8, 2017

AAVMC Accepting Award Nominations

read more Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nelson Installed as AAVMC President, U.S. Deans Gather During Summer Meeting

read more Journal of Veterinary Medical Education