During the May 1-4 meeting of the AVMA Executive Board meeting at Association headquarters, board members recommended that the House of Delegates disapprove all but one of six resolutions at its July session.
The board referred Resolution 4, which mandates greater AVMA support to the state veterinary medical associations dealing with difficult legislation, to the delegates without a recommendation to approve or disapprove it.
The resolutions submitted to the board called for an AVMA policy statement opposing induced molting; the AVMA to review the scientific evidence regarding the effects of gestation crates on the health and welfare of breeding sows; a bylaws amendment requiring that the Executive Board chair be elected from the district representatives on the board; a commitment from the AVMA to assist state veterinary associations defending their state veterinary practice act or responding to other state legislative initiatives affecting veterinary medicine; the AVMA to encourage Congress to pass legislation forgiving student debt for veterinarians completing a postdoctoral degree in public health or epidemiology; and, finally, the AVMA to appropriate $50,000 to a public relations campaign emphasizing the role of veterinarians in homeland security.
The HOD will vote on the recommendations July 19 during its annual session in Denver. Board members suggested that delegates disapprove all the recommendations except Resolution 4. Nine state veterinary associations and the Colegio de Medicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico submitted that resolution, which commits the AVMA to helping the state veterinary associations in the legislative arena.
While the board agreed in theory with the resolution, it forwarded the resolution without a recommendation. Several members were concerned with the cost of underwriting efforts to monitor state legislation and defeat potentially harmful laws to the practice of veterinary medicine in the 50 states. A cost estimate wasn't included in Resolution 4, although a "financial commitment" on the part of the AVMA is explicitly stated in the final paragraph.
"This could have huge budgetary implications," Dr. Henry E. Childers, District I representative, said.
AVMA President Joe M. Howell observed that Resolution 4 is a "big signal" that state associations want help defeating legislation they believe to be bad. The AVMA should be proactive, Dr. Howell said, by creating a program that can help state associations monitor legislation and lobby more effectively.
The board once again recommended that the HOD disapprove Resolution 1, which states the AVMA opposes induced molting—an accepted husbandry practice in the poultry industry that utilizes feed restrictions and reduced photoperiod and "day length" to bring laying hens into a nonlaying and oviduct rejuvenation period. The resolution was submitted by petition.
This is the fifth consecutive year delegates have been asked to oppose the practice, but they have voted down the resolution in previous years. At last year's HOD meeting in Nashville, moreover, delegates approved a resolution reaffirming AVMA support for induced molting while "encourag[ing] ongoing research into the effect of various methods of induced molting on the performance and well-being of laying chickens."
Induced (Forced) Molting in
RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that all hens used in commercial egg production receive fresh water and nutritionally-adequate food on a daily basis, unless a brief period of food withdrawal is required for therapeutic purposes. It opposes induced or forced molting, the process designed to bring an entire flock of hens into a non-laying and oviduct rejuvenation period at the same time, when it involves the withholding of water or food or employs some other means of causing a molt which results in malnutrition or other ill health or when it compromises well-being.
RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association hereby withdraws Resolution 3 adopted by the AVMA House of Delegates at the 2002 AVMA Convention relating to sow housing, and that the AVMA determines to conduct a thorough and objective review of the scientific evidence relating to the impact on health and welfare of keeping breeding sows in gestation crates.
Election of the Executive Board Chair
RESOLVED, that the AVMA Bylaws Article III, Section 8, be amended to provide that the chair of the Executive Board be elected from among the district representatives on the Board.
Confirming the Need for the AVMA to Take A More Active Role in Support of State Veterinary Medical Associations Efforts to Respond to Legislative Challenges
RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association confirms that the provisions of Article II of the AVMA Constitution (Objectives) includes authority to provide needed assistance, when requested, to a state veterinary association engaged in the
defense of their state veterinary practice act or responding to other state legislative initiatives that have the potential to diminish the role and scope of veterinary medicine on an interstate basis.
Be it further resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association make a commitment to provide review and guidance, scientific position papers and public relations support to a state veterinary medical association responding against detrimental state legislative issues having a potential to adversely effect veterinary medicine on a interstate basis.
Debt-Forgiveness for Veterinary Students With Advanced Degrees in Public Health or Epidemiology
RESOLVED, that AVMA use its collective political resources to encourage the Congress of the United States to pass the necessary legislation to create a debt forgiveness program for veterinary students for educational expenses upon successful completion of a post doctoral degree in public health or epidemiology.
Allocation of Funds and Resources for a Public Relations Campaign on the Role of Veterinary Homeland Security
RESOLVED, that the AVMA allocate funds and resources to a public relations campaign that emphasizes the crucial role of the veterinarian in homeland security (i.e. food safety, public health, and our nation's biosecurity).
Board members voted to recommend disapproval of Resolution 2. Submitted by petition, this resolution calls for withdrawal of support for a policy adopted last year by the AVMA relating to sow housing and encourages the Association to conduct a review of scientific evidence about how gestation crates affect the health and welfare of breeding sows.
Last year, delegates approved a resolution strengthening AVMA support for the use of sow housing configurations that meet certain minimum standards for animal care and welfare.
The resolution background states that "withdrawing the AVMA resolution on sow housing and the initiation of a thorough investigation of the issue regarding whether the gestation crate is a humane method of housing sows is the appropriate response to this animal health and welfare issue."
Resolution 3, which requested an amendment to the AVMA Bylaws to require that the Executive Board chair be elected from among the board's 11 district representatives, also received a recommendation for disapproval from the board.
The AVMA Board of Governors comprises the president, president-elect, and Executive Board chair. The HOD elects the president-elect, whereas AVMA members in the 11 districts elect their Executive Board representative.
The Iowa VMA submitted Resolution 3, saying it will ensure a diversity of opinions on the Board of Governors.
Although the only requirement for Executive Board chair candidates is membership on the board, the chair has traditionally been a district representative in his or her fifth or sixth year on the Executive Board.
Last year, however, Dr. James H. Brandt was elected board chair after completing his term as 2001-2002 AVMA president. Dr. Brandt had not served on the Executive Board until he was elected 2000-2001 AVMA president-elect.
Dr. Michael Miller, the Iowa delegate behind the concept of Resolution 3, said, "I think it's important that one of the three (members of the Board of Governors) have, at least, pretty extensive experience with the Executive Board to know how it works and understand where they're coming from, and the president or president-elect may have been on the Executive Board or they may not."
But during deliberations over Resolution 3, the board felt that the election of the Executive Board chair should be determined by board members themselves, not delegates. "It would be like us telling the House of Delegates who should be the (House Advisory Committee) chair," Dr. Jack O. Walther, AVMA president-elect, said.
AVMA President Howell, along with Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, vice chair and District II representative, will run for 2003-2004 Executive Board chair. Dr. Howell served on the Executive Board prior to his election to AVMA president-elect.
If the HOD were to approve Resolution 3 in July, it would not take effect until a bylaws amendment precipitated by its approval is voted on by the HOD is 2004.
Three state veterinary associations, along with the District of Columbia VMA and National Association of Federal Veterinarians, submitted Resolution 5, charging the AVMA with using its resources to promote passage of federal legislation that establishes a debt-forgiveness program for veterinarians receiving a postdoctoral degree in public health or epidemiology. The expected cost to the AVMA is $25,000.
After much discussion, it was pointed out that the resolution doesn't require that the debt-strapped candidate actually go on to work in public health or as an epidemiologist, only that the veterinarian receives a postdoctoral degree in the designated area. It was then that the board voted to recommend disapproval of the resolution.
And finally, board members voted to recommend that the HOD reject a resolution calling for the AVMA to allocate $50,000 and other resources toward a public relations campaign emphasizing the role of veterinarians in homeland security.
Three state veterinary associations, as well as the District of Columbia VMA and National Association of Federal Veterinarians, submitted Resolution 6.