Members of the House Veterinary Medicine Caucus late last month held their first meeting on Capitol Hill to discuss the veterinary workforce and plans to address vets' participation in ensuring animal health and food safety.
The committee, comprised of 13 House members, including Chairs Reps. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., was formed in March to increase awareness of veterinary medicine's role in research, public health, animal health and welfare and food safety. Both Schrader and Yoho are veterinarians by trade.
“For the most part, I think that people have no idea what a major role veterinarians play in advancing the health of both animals and people. This caucus will be a great way to spread the word among legislators and other decision makers who have the power and influence to make a difference," Rep. Yoho said following the group's formation.
In addition to educational purposes, the caucus may also draft legislation, generate awareness and support for specific initiatives and provide Congressional testimony.
The group highlighted top legislative priorities for the 113th Congress, including the farm bill and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. Also on the radar are specific appropriations requests for animal health and disease research, including funding through the National Institutes of Health.
At the inaugural meeting, American Veterinary Medical Association Director of Veterinary Economics Dr. Michael Dicks reviewed with the caucus the 2013 U.S. Veterinary Workforce Study, released in April, which detailed the current and future supply and demand for veterinarians.
Reps. serving on the caucus include: Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., John Duncan, R-Tenn., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Lois Capps, D-Calif., David Joyce, R-Ohio, Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.