Federal spending bill has good news for veterinarians

Published on December 20, 2019
Veterinary voices guiding public policy

Agricultural, retirement wins in year-end package

Yesterday, Congress passed a year-end spending package with good news for veterinarians across the profession.

With the president’s signature, the bill will avert a government shutdown and ensure federal veterinarians won’t have to work without pay this winter. It also provides important funding for veterinary programs that support animal agriculture and includes expanded retirement opportunities for veterinarians.

On the agricultural front, highlights include:

  • Continued funding for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and the Veterinary Services Grant Program at $8 million and $3 million, respectively, both of which help increase access to rural veterinary care
  • Increased funding for the Center for Veterinary Biologics and the Veterinary Diagnostics program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • Support for the science program at the soon-to-be-completed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility
  • Increased funding for Horse Protection Act enforcement, plus additional funding for the Bureau of Land Management’s management of wild horses and burros
  • $41.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including a 3% increase to all NIH institutes and centers

The spending package also includes the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which is important news for the veterinary profession. This bipartisan provision allows for establishment of multi-employer retirement plans, which would enable employers to band together to provide retirement offerings. AVMA is hopeful this can strengthen our efforts to offer retirement benefits to our members.

Finally, the legislation also contains a number of tax provisions relative to veterinary medicine, including reinstating the three-year tax depreciation for racehorses, certain deductions for those that are impacted by natural disasters and a repeal of the medical device tax.

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