Congressmen call veterinarians to action

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Rep. Scott
Rep. David Scott
Rep. Gingrey
Rep. Phil Gingrey
Rep. Kingston
Rep. Jack Kingston
Rep. Schrader
Rep. Kurt Schrader

Four members of the House of Representatives spoke at the AVMA Political Action Committee Congressional Club Luncheon Aug. 1 in Atlanta.

Attending the annual event, held in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention, were three Georgia congressmen—David Scott, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston—and the only veterinarian serving in the House, Dr. Kurt Schrader of Oregon.

During the luncheon, Kingston was awarded the 2010 AVMA Advocacy Award for his support of legislation promoting the veterinary profession and animal health.

Kingston and the other representatives stressed the need for veterinarians to participate in the legislative process to ensure public and animal health. "Like never before have we needed the veterinarian to claim his rightful place in health care of the nation and the world," Scott said.

They spoke favorably of the AVMA legislative agenda and noted the Association's efforts to shore up the lagging supply of veterinarians in agriculture with the Veterinarian Services Investment Act (H.R. 3519). The bill, which the House Agriculture Committee recently passed, would create a competitive grant program to relieve veterinary shortage situations and support veterinary services.

A common theme among the speakers was the need for veterinarians to be engaged in the legislative process. Gingrey, a physician, said Congress wants guidance from veterinarians in the ongoing debate over the use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture. He worries that banning certain drug uses could harm the agriculture industry as well as animal welfare.

Dr. Schrader called on his colleagues to get involved. "We deal with lots of problems, and veterinarians have the knowledge and expertise to answer them. You have to be engaged," he said.