The efforts of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division to advance the Association's federal legislative agenda during the 110th Congress will be supported by a lobbying firm, to be chosen in the near future.
The Executive Board approved the recommendation, submitted by the Legislative Advisory Committee, at a cost of up to $72,500 from reserves, and $120,000 per year plus expenses, beginning in 2008.
During its spring 2007 meeting, the LAC met with a number of lobbying firms with capable staff and extensive expertise in matters pertaining to agriculture, small business, public health, animal health, and the appropriations process.
According to the committee, most government relations firms are staffed by former members of Congress, congressional staffers, and Executive Branch personnel; hiring such a firm will assist the GRD by providing access to key decision makers on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch.
Prior to the vote, AVMA President-Elect Gregory S. Hammer was one of several board members who spoke in favor of the recommendation. "A firm gets us in the door, and at this particular juncture, it provides us with resources we need to back up our GRD," Dr. Hammer said.
The LAC also noted that a lobbying firm could help GRD staff formulate successful strategies in pursuing the AVMA legislative agenda.
That agenda, updated by the board at this same meeting, is an extensive set of legislative and funding priorities for the 110th Congress (see article). It includes defeating bills that would ban horse slaughter for human consumption and limit the number of antimicrobials available for food animals. Passing legislation favorable to small businesses and strengthening the veterinary workforce are also on the agenda.
"We're not trying to replace our assistant directors, who are experts in veterinary medicine," explained Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA GRD. "A lobbying firm provides us additional access to key decision makers in the Legislative and Executive branches."
The LAC will now work with AVMA staff to choose the best lobbying firm for the Association and its members. Cost depends on the scope of the work and will be negotiated after a firm is selected.