Board approves action items in Denver

Steps taken to assist with state challenges, analyze concept of independent educational assessment program
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The 2002-2003 AVMA Executive Board held its final meeting July 17 in Denver, chaired by Dr. James H. Brandt, Nokomis, Fla. Six days later, also in Denver, the 2003-2004 board conducted its first meeting of the new Association year. The first order of business was to elect a new chair. Dr. Joe M. Howell of Oklahoma City was chosen. Dr. Gregory S. Hammer (District II), Dover, Del., who served as vice chair this past year, was also a nominee.

Dr. Howell, a companion animal practitioner, was AVMA president in 2002-2003 and now, as immediate past president, is serving his final year on the board. Dr. Roger K. Mahr (District VI) of Geneva, Ill., was elected vice chair.

July 17 board actions
The board approved a position statement on harmonization of aquatic animal health programs. The AVMA Aquaculture and Seafood Advisory Committee recommended the measure. Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of agriculture, according to the committee, but disease is emerging as an important limiting factor in aquaculture, wild fisheries, and ornamental aquatic animals. The guides, policies, codes, and regulations currently being promulgated need to be consistent with each other.

The new AVMA position reads as follows:

Harmonization of Aquatic Animal Health Programs
The AVMA considers it to the benefit of aquatic animals, public health, seafood safety, and the environment, to encourage and work with all entities, including producer groups, allied organizations, and state and federal agencies, to ensure: (1) That aquatic animal health programs are developed based on sound scientific principles and appropriate risk analysis; (2) That, as aquatic animal health programs develop, they are harmonized (made consistent, but not necessarily identical) at international, national, state and local levels, in approaches to wild, domesticated and exotic species, and with existing terrestrial programs and regulations; and, (3) That the AVMA and the veterinary profession are actively engaged with appropriate entities, as necessary, to promote these principles.

Continuing a tradition, the board approved AVMA participation as an affiliate sponsor of the Seventh Annual Pet Night on Capitol Hill, Sept. 9. The Animal Health Institute offers affiliate sponsorship to its close allies; the cost is $1,000. This yearly event has become highly popular as a "Celebration of America's Pets" and an opportunity to recognize the impact that pets have on people's lives. Many members of Congress and their key staff attend the event.

To continue the series of productive discussions on issues affecting veterinary medicine in North America, the board approved a meeting between the AVMA and Canadian and Mexican veterinary leadership delegations in April 2004. The meeting will be held at AVMA headquarters.

The AVMA and Mexican leaders have met three times since 2001, alternating between Mexico and the United States. In March 2003, Canadian leaders joined them in Mexico. Their areas of common interest include quality veterinary education, agri-bioterrorism, food safety, and trade issues. The direct cost to the AVMA will be $3,000, and the foreign delegations will fund their own representatives.

A newly established Executive Board/House Advisory Committee Constitution and Bylaws Review Task Force will review the AVMA Constitution and Bylaws and develop revised versions for review and final action by the House of Delegates. The recommendation for creation of the task force was submitted by Dr. Mahr, Dr. Thomas F. Meyer (2002-2003 House Advisory Committee chair), and Dr. Jack O. Walther (then AVMA president-elect). The cost is estimated at $5,000.

The charge to the task force is to review the revised version of the Constitution and the preliminary revision of the Bylaws that have already been developed by the Executive Board Constitution and Bylaws Committee.

The timetable provides for the revised Constitution to be introduced to the HOD in July 2004 and then forwarded, along with the proposed revision of the Bylaws, to the HOD in 2005 for final action. The goal of the overall endeavor is to establish the Constitution as the governing document that includes the essential rules of the AVMA, and to establish the Bylaws as the document that guides the day-to-day operations.

Last spring, the board approved establishment of a Strategic Planning Committee. Its purpose is, initially, to coordinate and foster an effective strategic planning process, eliciting input from pertinent stakeholders, sorting issues in order of potential implications for the AVMA, and presenting this information to the board and staff.

At the July 17 meeting, the board approved a recommendation from Dr. Hammer to fund an expert facilitator/consultant for the Strategic Planning Committee. The $10,000 funding is based on four days of consultant time plus travel expenses.

The board disapproved the concept of telemarketing to members by AVMA affinity program vendors. The Membership and Field Services Division made the recommendation as a means of increasing the AVMA's yearly royalty income.

Drs. Brandt and HowellJuly 23 board actions
After due deliberation, the 2003-2004 board approved a plan for addressing short- and long-term AVMA support for managing legislative and regulatory challenges faced by state constituent organizations. The recommendation was submitted by 15 of the 16 Executive Board members.

The measure relates to Resolution 4, in which veterinary medical organizations from nine states and one commonwealth requested additional AVMA assistance to respond to state legislative and regulatory initiatives that could affect delivery of veterinary services and/or animal and public health and well-being.

Since the resolution was filed, other state associations expressed support for it. On July 19, the House of Delegates approved the resolution (see page 575). The board had made no recommendation on the resolution, and the House Advisory Committee had recommended disapproval.

The newly approved plan creates a seven-person task force (cost, $13,000) that will develop and recommend long-term policy and processes, and authorizes the immediate creation of two additional staff positions to address interim needs.

The only dissenting voice on the board against the recommendation came from newly seated member, Dr. Larry M. Kornegay. "Passage of Resolution 4 addressed this ... and reaffirmed AVMA's commitment to helping (its constituent) groups," Dr. Kornegay said. "Adding staff is premature. It may have a place later." A few other board members said, however, that the HOD views the resolution only as philosophic.

The task force will include one delegate from a state VMA, one delegate from an allied association, the executive director of a constituent VMA, a representative of the Council on Public Relations, a state legislative committee member, a representative of state or federal government service, and an Executive Board member, who will be chair.

Another discussion centered around a recommendation from board member Dr. Robert E. Hertzog (District VII). He asked the board to approve an informal meeting with legal counsel to determine the feasibility—particularly the legal feasibility—of continuing discussions on the development of an independent education equivalence assessment program for graduates of nonaccredited veterinary schools.

Board members expressed some reservations about how the attorneys could address such a question, and what direction this might take, but ultimately, they approved the recommendation. As Dr. Henry E. Childers (District I board member and candidate for president-elect) said, "This is a continuation of the process. We've come a long way. We really should go ahead with the next step."

Up to $5,000 will be allocated for an informal meeting between legal counsel for the AVMA, legal counsel for the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, and independent legal counsel assisting representatives of the AVMA's Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates and the AAVSB's Program for Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence Board.

Both the AVMA and AAVSB have expressed legal concerns with the development of a single program, so its representatives believe that such a meeting is not only the next critical step but also the most expedient manner in which to determine whether ongoing legal concerns can be resolved.

If the AVMA Executive Board and AAVSB Executive Committee determine that legal concerns can be resolved, then the ECFVG and PAVE Board representatives recommend that ongoing discussions should continue, and that two other key stakeholders should be involved—the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Another board action involved the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. To ascertain the financial stability of the AVMF, the board authorized the AVMA treasurer to have an independent, in-depth audit of the AVMF conducted immediately.

The recommendation for an audit was submitted by AVMA president Dr. Jack O. Walther, board chair and immediate past president Dr. Joe M. Howell, and AVMA treasurer Dr. James F. Peddie. The board chose not to take several other recommended action steps.

The board approved staff travel to two key international meetings. Executive Vice President Bruce W. Little is an invited speaker at the annual International Military Veterinary Medicine Symposium this October in Ieper, Belgium. The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps presents this continuing education and management event for U.S. military veterinarians stationed throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as senior officers of the veterinary corps of allied European nations.

An AVMA staff member, Dr. Gail C. Golab, will participate in the first Global Conference on Animal Welfare next February in Paris. The Office International des Epizooties, which the World Trade Organization recognizes as the international organization for animal health, will sponsor the conference. Dr. Golab is assistant director of the AVMA Communications Division and staff consultant to the Animal Welfare Committee.