Veterinarians who haven't signed up with the Department of Agriculture's revised accreditation program by early August can expect to see their existing accreditation expire.
The USDA set an Aug. 2 deadline for applications under the revised National Veterinary Accreditation Program, which allows veterinarians to perform specific duties for the USDA.
Madelaine Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the USDA currently has no plans to extend the deadline. The USDA had received about 45,000 applications and processed more than 5,000, and the department was close enough to the estimated target of 60,000 applications that an extension could be unnecessary.
Veterinarians who have submitted applications may continue to perform their accredited duties. Unless their forms contain errors, applicants will not be contacted by the USDA until they receive letters in the mail with their national accreditation numbers and renewal dates, Fletcher said.
The new NVAP is intended to improve veterinary services and guarantee standards for the veterinarians deputized by the Department of Agriculture to perform duties, such as issue certificates of veterinary inspection, by adding educational requirements, two tiers of accreditation, and renewals every three years. The USDA is distributing the initial renewal dates from 2013-2015.
The first tier of accreditation, called category I, allows veterinarians to perform specific duties for the USDA involving animals such as cats and dogs but not food and fiber species, horses, birds, farm-raised aquatic animals, other livestock, or zoo animals that can transmit exotic animal diseases to livestock. The second tier, category II, allows such work on all animals.
The USDA will later have program certifications, or specialized training. Program certifications for testing in Johne's disease, aquaculture, emergency management, and contagious equine metritis are being developed, and category II accreditation will be required to earn a program certification.
Fletcher said the USDA has focused on developing the core of the revised NVAP first, and she did not have a timeline for the addition of program certifications.
The USDA has additional information on the new NVAP at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/vet_accreditation.