This year could be an important one in Congress for the veterinary profession.
At press time, the Farm Bill was in conference committee. Also, Congress has not fully funded the National Veterinary Medical Services Act, a tuition repayment program for veterinarians who work in shortage areas.
To promote passage and implementation of these and other pieces of legislation, the AVMA is working to attract many more volunteers into the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network.
Christine Baker, grassroots manager at the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., said the goal of AVMA-CAN is to have members in every congressional district—with a volunteer to coordinate each district's grassroots efforts. The AVMA asks volunteers to get to know their members of Congress and to serve as a local link to veterinary medicine for these legislators.
"There may be veterinarians out there who already have existing friendships with members of Congress, and we need to know that. We need veterinarians who are willing to become the veterinary contact person for their senators and representatives," Baker said.
"There is a minimal time commitment—perhaps 30 minutes to make an important telephone call—and the GRD will supply background information to quickly bring each of our champions up to speed. We're also asking all our AVMA-CAN volunteers to visit their members of Congress when they are in their home districts to help foster a stronger relationship."
Information is available by contacting Baker at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3206, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Veterinarians can sign up for the Action E-List—which sends e-mail alerts when veterinarians' involvement can make a difference—by visiting www.avma.org, then clicking on "Get Involved" and "AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network."
The AVMA legislative agenda is posted on the Advocacy section of the AVMA Web site,
Click on "Federal" and then "Legislative activities."