AVMA Recognizes Public Veterinarians Urges Congressional Action

WASHINGTON, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reiterated today, at the start of Public Service Recognition Week, its ongoing support for veterinarians working in the public sector and urged Congress to take action to bolster resources for these professionals.

Veterinarians fill essential positions at agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Agriculture, the US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. But while veterinarians play critical public service roles in food safety, bioterrorism prevention and public health protection, there is a significant void in the funding for the profession's growth, says AVMA's president, Gregory S. Hammer, DVM.

"It is unfathomable that, despite the indispensable roles these hardworking professionals play in protecting human food, health and security, Congress is not providing adequate funding to ensure the supply of veterinarians to meet our nation's demand," Hammer says.

Research shows that the number of veterinarians working in key areas has seen a sharp decline. For instance, only 17 percent of veterinarians work in food supply, which includes private and public practice veterinarians involved in the entire food chain.

With the US population at more than 300 million and growing, this shortage could have severe consequences. "If actions are not taken to increase the number of veterinarians in public service, the effects could be devastating," Hammer says.

To remedy the problem, the AVMA has been working with Congress on a series of legislative programs, including the Veterinary Workforce Grant Program, which would increase the number of veterinarians trained in agricultural biosecurity.

"Call your congressional representative today. Tell them you value the public service of veterinarians and demand the Veterinary Workforce Grant Program remain in the final version of the Farm Bill," Hammer urges.

Public Service Recognition Week is celebrated each May as a way to honor those who serve America as federal, state and local government employees.

The AVMA and its more than 76,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at http://www.avma.org for more information.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association

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