Senate passes veterinary workforce expansion act

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A modified version of the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act passed the Senate July 23 as an amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Bill.

The expansion act, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado, authorizes a competitive grants program to increase capacity in the nation's veterinary medical colleges and alleviate the critical shortage of veterinarians in public health practice.

Allard, a veterinarian, applauded the Senate action. "The nation's veterinary colleges do not have the resources necessary to meet the demand for veterinarians who are vital to maintain public health preparedness," he said.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and the AVMA are championing the legislation, and AVMA President Gregory S. Hammer has made passage and funding of the bill his top priority.

Dr. Hammer has directed AVMA councils and committees to develop action plans supporting enactment and funding of the workforce expansion bill. He also called on all state VMAs and allied organization to contribute to the effort by creating their own plans of action and grassroots activities.

The education bill next goes before the Education and Labor Committee in the House of Representatives for consideration.