The spending package approved to fund the federal government through the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2021 provides major wins for veterinarians. These include AVMA priorities such as One Health and funds to renovate the National Wildlife Health Center and other veterinary-related programs. The AVMA advocacy team worked with lawmakers in both the House and Senate to secure these wins.
- Critical funds for renovation of the National Wildlife Health Center
- Increased funding for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and continued funding for the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP), both of which help increase access to rural veterinary care
- Funding for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database
- Increase in spending for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics
- Additional funds for enforcing the Horse Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act
- Funding increase for USDA research, including continued support for the soon-to-be-completed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility
AVMA-led language supporting One Health was successfully inserted into the final spending bill, demonstrating that lawmakers recognize the interconnectedness of animal, human, and environmental health. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies to provide a report on existing One Health efforts to prevent and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks in animals and humans. This advances AVMA-led advocacy efforts to ensure coordination of One Health activities across the entire federal government.
After sustained advocacy by the AVMA to bolster wildlife health and disease management, the spending bill includes a major win – $55.5 million for the first phase of renovation of the National Wildlife Health Center. The AVMA worked closely with the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians and other stakeholders to secure this funding. The renovation supports the work of the National Wildlife Health Center and its important role in zoonotic research for detecting novel pathogens and emerging infectious diseases, developing rapid diagnostic tests, conducting disease surveillance, and designing vaccines used to control these diseases.
Significant funding is provided for key agricultural research programs that are important to veterinary medicine. This includes support for eradicating livestock diseases such as cattle fever, encouraging APHIS to establish cooperative agreements with academic research institutions, and funding for the Genome to Phenome program to develop genome engineering tools.
The legislation provides $3 million for an APHIS antimicrobial resistance dashboard tool dedicated to livestock management, research, risk, and stewardship. This includes $1 million that will be directed to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).
The bill also includes the AVMA-supported National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Act. This requires USDA to use the facility to implement research and development objectives to develop veterinary countermeasures for emerging foreign animal diseases and animal transboundary diseases and provide advanced test, diagnostic, and evaluation capability for threat detection, vulnerability assessment, and veterinary countermeasure assessment for animal and zoonotic diseases.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 was included in the final agreement. The legislation establishes a Horseracing Integrity and Racing Authority responsible for creating uniform performance and safety standards for Thoroughbred horseracing. AVMA supports the underlying goals of the legislation: creating national uniformity in the use of therapeutic medications, achieving maximum anti-doping standards, and improving racetrack safety. AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) successfully advocated for the bill to encompass racetrack safety standards, in addition to medication and anti-doping provisions.
The spending package also provides $115.7 million for the Wild Horse and Burro program to further institute an aggressive, non-lethal population control strategy to address the current unsustainable trajectory of on-range wild horse and burro population growth.
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