WASHINGTON — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today applauded U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Thune (R-SD) for introducing a Senate bill, the Veterinary Services Investment Act (VSIA), which will confront critical veterinary service shortages.
VSIA would establish a new grant program to assist states in addressing their unique veterinary workforce needs. Grants awarded under the program could be used for activities such as recruiting veterinarians to work in underserved areas, bolstering food safety and conducting surveillance of animal disease.
Broad, bipartisan support for VSIA has grown substantially since a companion bill, H.R. 3519, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July. Since its introduction, 28 representatives have signed on as co-sponsors for the bill.
Support for the legislation among stakeholder groups also remains extraordinarily high. At present, 89 veterinary and agricultural groups have joined the AVMA’s letter endorsing the VSIA.
In the Senate today, 18 senators committed to co-sponsoring the bill as introduced by Stabenow and Thune. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Barasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and John Tester (D-MT) have all signed on to support VSIA.
“Senators Stabenow and Thune and their colleagues are voicing support for maintaining public health, food safety and animal health by bolstering the veterinary workforce,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA Chief Executive Officer. “The Veterinary Services Investment Act will significantly help bring much needed veterinarian services to areas of our country in need.”
“Too many rural communities lack adequate veterinary services that are important to our agricultural industry in Michigan,” said Stabenow. “This legislation will address this shortage in veterinarian care, create good-paying jobs, and invest in food safety.”
“Many people in rural states like South Dakota depend on healthy animals for their livelihood,” said Thune. “This legislation will help draw and retain veterinarians in rural areas, increase the availability of veterinary education, and help veterinarians use technology to expand the reach of their practices.”
Under the VSIA, veterinary clinics in rural areas and state, national, allied or regional veterinary organizations, specialty boards or veterinary medical association would be eligible to apply for grants. Veterinary colleges, university research and veterinary medical foundations, departments of veterinary science and comparative medicine, state agricultural experiment stations, and state, local and tribal government agencies would also be eligible to apply for grants.