Dr. Carie Telgen
I must say how thankful I am for AABP-L and the fact that you all start discussions that are so pertinent to my anticipated President’s message. It really makes writing these so much easier when I know these topics are already on your mind.
The recent discussion on Colorado and Oregon’s legislative bills fits quite nicely with what I was going to write about this month, which was our AABP Executive Committee “D.C. Fly-In”. Every spring, the executive committees of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and AABP meet in Washington, D.C., to get updates from our key allied organizations that are housed in D.C. We usually spend one day catching up with all of the agencies (of all the letters of the alphabet) and then the next day spend half a day meeting with our own local representatives. Due to COVID-19, we did not have a chance to meet at all in 2020, and this year, we were not able to go to D.C., but were able to meet with the agencies virtually for a solid eight-hour Zoom meeting.
Most of the morning was spent meeting with the AVMA Government Relations Division (GRD). There has been quite a bit of discussion on AABP-L about how AVMA is only small-animal focused. However, the AVMA GRD has repeatedly told us (for at least the last three years I’ve been involved) that by far, the bulk of the legislative issues they are fighting are large-animal-related such as biosecurity and foreign animal diseases, vaccine banks, animal welfare/rights, antimicrobial resistance, etc. They are always looking to AABP and AASV for their thoughts and concerns regarding the issues that are brought to them, and we are very fortunate that they take the time to interact with us on such an extensive level. We have excellent AABP AVMA delegates who fight on our behalf in the AVMA House of Delegate meetings, and the connections we have with the GRD have been strong for several years. I strongly encourage those of you who are not AVMA members to join. Our voice is only as strong as the members we represent.
I took four pages of notes during our session and clearly don’t have room to highlight all of the things we discussed with each agency. Below is a sampling:
- VMLRP- the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act has been introduced in the House with nine co-sponsors. The goal of this act is to eliminate the 39% tax on the VMLRP award, which would increase the number of people who can receive awards each year without increasing appropriations.
- There is concerning legislation in several states that AVMA is focusing on:
- New York – restricting preventative use of antibiotics
- Colorado – Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE) Act
- Oregon – similar legislation to that in Colorado
- Thirteen states with telemedicine legislation. This was killed in Florida, but AVMA is preparing for the next session with multiple other states introducing similar bills.
- Utah – legislation-approved funding for another veterinary school.
- NCBA – Animals with genetic engineering (i.e. CRISPR) is currently under FDA regulation. As it continues under FDA, all offspring of a genetically-engineered animal would be considered a “drug” and therefore would have limitations on slaughter. The goal is to get this oversight under USDA jurisdiction.
- The National Animal Health Lab Network connects 60 federal, state and university diagnostic labs located in 42 states and are fundamental for foreign animal disease surveillance. They are pushing for funding to continue this network at a level of $30 million; funding has been approved but there have been no appropriations yet.
- The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) is currently at its authorized funding amount of $2.5 million. There has been a push to increase that funding, but it is not possible at this time.
- The Farm Bill will expire in 2023 – AVMA, NCBA and NMPF are already looking at this to see what changes need to be made.
- NCBA, NMPF, DCHA and the Veal Quality Assurance Program have jointly worked on a Calf Care and Quality Assurance Program that they will be rolling out. It is a producer-focused training (similar to FARM) that would certify producers on calf care.
- Imported Dogs – who would think that imported dogs are a concern to us? Well, it’s not the dogs themselves, but all the “stuff” that comes with them. There is a large portion of these imported dogs that are coming from countries infected with African Swine Fever (ASF). The food, bedding, toys, etc. that these dogs come with can all be vectors to introduce ASF into the US.
- USDA-APHIS will follow AVMA guidelines regarding euthanasia. They are reviewing the ventilation shutdown method. They also believe there needs to be a three-way conversation when indemnity issues come into play.
- FDA is still working on transitioning OTC products to prescription. They anticipate a two-year phase-in period.
There was so much more discussed than what I have time for in this short column. But the key is this – your membership matters, your voice matters. These issues affect our livelihood and that of our clients. We need to stay aware of these issues and be actively involved in having our voices heard. If anyone has any questions on what was discussed, please feel free to reach out to myself, or anyone on the AABP Executive Committee. #agvocation!
Dr. Carie Telgen