June 01, 2016


 AVMA funding economic research, graduate program

Posted May 11, 2016

The AVMA will fund surveys, a graduate veterinary economics program, and creation of a system to analyze government actions and predict conditions in veterinary markets.

The Association plans to spend about $1.3 million in research through 2017 as well as $200,000 each year starting this fall—continuing indefinitely—to sponsor the master’s degree program.

In a meeting April 8, the AVMA Board of Directors approved most of those research expenses and the first year of the graduate program, while $120,000 of the research money had been approved and allocated in 2015 but not yet spent.

The AVMA Board of Directors voted in favor of economic research programs and a graduate veterinary economics  program. Board chair Dr. John de Jong is shown in the center beside treasurer Dr. Barbara Schmidt, along with Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, and Dr. Elizabeth Curry-Galvin, then assistant executive vice president. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Most of the research money—$765,000—is dedicated toward work on the AVMA’s pet demographic survey and a new series of annual surveys on demand for veterinary services in metropolitan markets. A contractor, the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, will conduct the surveys along with Iowa State University and veterinary product manufacturers, according to a proposal provided to Board members and information from the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division.

The information provided to Board members indicates the AVMA may spend less on the surveys than the budgeted amount, as veterinary product manufacturers also may contribute.

The AVMA conducts the demographic survey every five years, and the annual metro market survey is a new project intended to help AVMA economists learn why some animals are unseen by veterinarians or seen less often than would be ideal.

The Board members also approved spending $172,000 on developing a modeling system that would use AVMA economic research to measure the effects of federal and state regulations and legislation on veterinary markets.

That will involve hiring a company, World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services, to adapt or redesign the current AVMA economic model. That model would incorporate data from the AVMA and federal government agencies to improve predictions on the effects of, for example, changes in the prices of veterinary services or consumer incomes, according to a company proposal presented to the AVMA Board of Directors. That proposal estimates the project would be completed by March 31, 2017.

The graduate veterinary economics program approved by the Board members is expected to enroll its first students this fall at Colorado State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. The program is intended to increase the number of economists working with the veterinary profession.

Michael R. Dicks, PhD, director of the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division, further explained that the program would create a pipeline for those economists to work for the AVMA and government entities such as the Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Up to four students would enter the 18- to 24-month program starting in August, and another two to four would enter in 2017. The AVMA is funding staff salaries and benefits, student tuition, and research project support.

The Board members also approved funding economic research on the benefits and costs of zoonotic disease outbreak prevention, the effects of pet health insurance on demand for veterinary services, the effects of animal shelter–issued veterinary care certificates on demand for veterinary services, and potential methods for reducing veterinary student expenditures.