Board weighs in on 2006 resolutions

Board forwards its recommendations to House of Delegates
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The AVMA Executive Board forwarded its recommendations to the House of Delegates for the seven resolutions submitted for consideration at this year's annual session. The House Advisory Committee will also forward recommendations for action after it meets July 12. During the 143rd annual session of the HOD, July 14-15 in Honolulu, the reference committees will add their recommendations, and the HOD will take action.

AVMA financial policies on charitable giving, cash reserves, and nonbudgeted spending are the subjects of Resolutions 1, 2, and 3, respectively; all of them were submitted collectively by the California, Oregon, and Wisconsin VMAs.

The board forwarded Resolution 1 to the HOD with no recommendation. The resolution calls for the AVMA to determine whether charitable giving is part of the Association's mission, and if it is, to define charitable giving and establish a charitable giving policy. AVMA President Henry E. Childers commented that charitable giving is not part of the AVMA's mission, nor should it be. Every organization should practice charitable giving, Dr. Childers said, but the organization's mission should be broad and unique.

The board recommended disapproval of Resolution 2, which calls for establishment of an AVMA reserve policy with regard to liquid assets, with a goal of maintaining 20 percent of the Association's annual budget in cash reserves. During discussion, Dr. Childers noted that current AVMA fiscal policy already specifies that a level of reserves must be maintained equal to an amount between 50 percent and 150 percent of the annual operating expenses. AVMA staff pointed out that the resolution specifies 20 percent, not "at least 20 percent," which if taken literally would mean that the Association must spend down its current reserves.

The board recommended disapproval of Resolution 3, which encourages the AVMA to develop a policy that places a limit on nonbudgeted spending for the annual budget. The resolution states that a five percent limit would be considered prudent if preservation of cash reserves is deemed important. Once again, Dr. Childers cited AVMA policies already in place, such as one that requires a three-fourths affirmative vote of the board for new, unbudgeted expenditures from the reserves when such expenditures would deplete or exceed the contingency fund. A three-fourths vote is also required for approval of recommendations with a cost of $25,000 or more.

The board recommended disapproval of Resolution 4, which asks the AVMA to declare that animal welfare is a higher priority than economic considerations. The resolution, which was generated by the animal rights organization Farm Sanctuary, was submitted by a petition of AVMA members. In the board discussion, AVMA Immediate Past President Bonnie V. Beaver said the resolution was unclear about whose priority was intended. Several board members noted that the board in 2004 identified animal welfare as one of the AVMA's top five strategic issues for the next one to three years. At a visioning session prior to the June 2006 meeting, the board once again identified animal welfare as a strategic issue. In addition, animal welfare has also been an AVMA priority by virtue of recent actions (such as creation of the Animal Welfare Division).

The board recommended approval of Resolution 5, which resolves that the AVMA urge the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to implement ongoing training programs for accredited veterinarians in the United States. The resolution was submitted by the Indiana and Wisconsin VMAs. Dr. John R. Scamahorn, District VI board member, mentioned that the timing of the resolution is great, because the proposed rule inviting public comment on a new structure for the National Veterinary Accreditation Program was just published June 1 in the Federal Register. Board members received copies of a letter received June 9 at AVMA headquarters from Dr. H. Ron DeHaven. The APHIS administrator states that the new NVAP structure provides for supplemental training designed for accredited veterinarians, and that it is this supplemental training to which Resolution 5 pertains.

The board forwarded Resolution 6 to the HOD with no recommendation. The resolution calls for the HOD to hold an official business session at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference each January, beginning in 2008, in addition to the annual session the HOD convenes the day before the AVMA Annual Convention begins each July. The Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois State VMAs submitted the resolution. There was discussion among board members that it is important not to lose the leadership component of the leadership conference if this initiative comes to pass and that a bylaws change would be required. Dr. Beaver said it is a House matter and spoke in favor of sending the resolution to the HOD without a recommendation.

With no discussion, the board recommended disapproval of Resolution 7, which asks the AVMA to oppose the practice of mechanical force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras because of the adverse effects on the birds' health and welfare associated with this practice. The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights helped generate the AVMA-member petition that resulted in this resolution. The wording of the resolution is identical to that of a 2005 resolution developed by the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee but disapproved by the HOD last year.