Board takes stand on homeland security, other proposals

Published on August 15, 2002
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The 2001-2002 AVMA Executive Board held its final meeting July 11 in Nashville, chaired by Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver. Later, the 2002-2003 board conducted its first meeting there on July 17, electing Dr. James H. Brandt as its new chair (see related news story).

July 11 board actions
The board postponed until the July 17 meeting a recommendation for an AVMA position on the proposed creation of the national Department of Homeland Security. More information was desired.

Given the AVMA's stated commitment to international veterinary medicine, the board approved a request for Dr. Donald G. Simmons, director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, to present a paper on veterinary college accreditation at the Japanese Veterinary Medical Congress in March 2003. Expenses will be paid by a Japanese grant-in-aid for scientific research. Japan does not have an accreditation system but is interested in developing a program and potentially modeling it on the AVMA Council on Education's program. A representative of the European Union will describe the European system.

The board disapproved continued financial support for the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force. The task force had recommended financial support in the amount of $15,000 per year for the next five years. To date, the task force has funded more than $750,000 in research through donations from industry, organizations, and individuals. Created in 1996, the task force has been a joint effort of the AVMA, AAHA, AAFP, and Veterinary Cancer Society.

The most specific function of the AVMA vice president's office is serving as liaison to veterinary students, and the officer spends a substantial amount of time attending student events and traveling to veterinary schools. To enable the vice president to focus attention on expanding the liaison with the student chapters of the AVMA and the Student AVMA, the board approved a recommendation amending the officer's duties. The official statement describing the duties of the vice president was revised to reduce certain other demands of that office. Those had included representing the AVMA at allied group, state, and regional meetings the president or president-elect are unable to attend, and serving as board representative on appointed committees.

A related policy recommendation was approved providing that the president, president-elect, immediate past president, Executive Board chair, and vice president—in that order—will represent the AVMA at annual meetings of state, regional, or allied veterinary organizations. By approving the recommendation, the board agreed that an immediate past president's experience makes him or her the most qualified person to represent the AVMA when the president and president-elect are unable to do so.

Amended "Rules for AVMA Officers Election Campaigns" received board approval. The original rules were adopted in 1996 to cover presidential campaigns and were expanded in 2000 to include all campaigns for AVMA officer positions. A board subcommittee chaired by Dr. Beaver found the rules "too restrictive, impractical, and unenforceable."

Among the provisions that have been eliminated were those encouraging candidates to hold their expenses to $20,000, limiting the veterinary meetings (primarily regional) where they may campaign, and limiting campaign expenditures to certain activities. At its July 11 meeting, the board further amended the rules to remove the provision that the AVMA will pay for candidates to attend the three board meetings held during their campaign year.

The subcommittee and the House Advisory Committee agreed on the amendments before presenting them to the board. At the House of Delegates session, July 13, Wisconsin delegate, Dr. Rene A. Carlson asked for an explanation of the rule changes. Dr. David L. McCrystle, 2001-2002 House Advisory Committee chair, explained it was the consensus of the board and HAC that the rules are out of date, and regional meetings are not always the best venue for campaigns.

The board referred to the Long-Range Planning Committee a recommendation from the Governmental Relations Division that each of the next three AVMA presidents serve a one-year term on the Agriculture Council of America's board of directors. The ACA board chairman issued the invitation. The ACA comprises leaders in the agriculture, food, and fiber communities dedicated to increasing awareness of agriculture's role in society.

July 17 meeting
The board resumed discussion of legislation in Congress proposing establishment of a Department of Homeland Security. As recommended by the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, the board voted to support the creation of the new department, but disagreed with transferring the entire Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from the Department of Agriculture.

At the July 17 meeting, two new board members were seated and received their gold badges. Photo left, Dr. Robert A. Dietl (right) welcomes Dr. Larry R. Corry. Dr. Dietl represented District VI, which comprised Iowa and Minnesota. When the first phase of the redistricting took effect after the 2002 House of Delegates session, Iowa and Minnesota became part of District VII. Dr. Corry represents the new District IV states of Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico, which had been part of District III. Photo right, Dr. Harmon A. Rogers (right) greets his successor in District XI, Dr. Richard E. Coon.

Instead, the AVMA recommends that an agreement be established between the departments to accomplish the homeland security tasks pertaining to agriculture.

Several bills propose establishing a homeland security department. Representative Richard K. Armey of Texas introduced HR 5005—President Bush's proposal, which calls for all of APHIS to be transferred to the new department. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut introduced S 2452, proposing that only the portion of APHIS "which administers laws relating to agricultural quarantine inspection at points of entry" be transferred to the new department.

Questions about the proposed transfer were developed by the AVMA and the Animal Agriculture Coalition, and they were submitted to the White House and Congress. The questions focus on the concern that the mission of APHIS is much broader than that of the proposed homeland security department. Many APHIS functions center on accidentally introduced foreign diseases. The AVMA is concerned that if moved to the new department, APHIS would have its priorities focused on terrorism, to the detriment of its nonterrorism activities.

In other actions, the board approved travel for Dr. Dawn M. Boothe, chair of the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, to represent the AVMA at the U. S. Pharmacopeia's Compounding Stakeholder Forum, Aug. 15, 2002 in Rockville, Md. Dr. Boothe, who is also the AVMA liaison to the USP, attended the first meeting last year.

A recommendation to approve AVMA membership in the Animal Health and Production Compendium Development Consortium of the Center for Applied Biosciences International was referred to the AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee. The electronic compendium is designed for those involved with animal health and production in cattle, small ruminants, swine, and poultry. It is delivered via CD-ROM and the Internet. Membership would require a one-time contribution of $80,000. The board had reservations about that cost as well as the amount of overlap this resource would have with the Merck Veterinary Manual, which recently debuted online.