Lawmakers form first-ever Senate Veterinary Medicine Caucus
August 10, 2023
U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Amy Klobuchar announced August 3 the creation of the inaugural Senate Veterinary Medicine Caucus. In doing so, the bipartisan caucus will “raise awareness of the multitude of ways veterinarians contribute to society and the important related policy challenges, including a growing shortage of public service and rural large animal veterinarians,” according to the announcement.
This is the first Veterinary Medical Caucus established in the Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Veterinary Medical Caucus was founded in 2017 to highlight bills important to the profession.
In addition to co-chairs Hyde-Smith and Klobuchar, caucus members are as follows: John Boozman from Arkansas, who is a ranking member of the Agriculture Committee; Mike Braun from Indiana; Lindsey Graham from South Carolina; Chuck Grassley from Iowa; Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming; Roger Marshall, MD, and Jerry Moran, both from Kansas; James Risch from Idaho; Tina Smith from Minnesota; and Roger Wicker from Mississippi.
“The challenges facing the veterinary profession have the potential to harm broad segments of our society, particularly in rural America where a growing shortage of large animal veterinarians is critical,” Hyde-Smith, a Republican from Mississippi, said in the announcement. “We formed this bipartisan caucus to focus attention on those issues in order to develop and enact policies that make this vital industry stronger.”
The veterinary caucus was created to inform public policy that recognizes the crucial roles of veterinarians in all forms of clinical practice and in non-clinical roles, including federal inspection of meat and poultry products; translational research benefitting both humans and animals; and animal and zoonotic disease prevention, detection, and response.
“Veterinarians provide a critical service to farmers, ranchers, and families,” said Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota. “The bipartisan Senate Veterinary Medicine Caucus will give Congress new opportunities to work with veterinarians across the country to better support medical advancements, protect our nation's food supply, and to ensure the prevention of animal disease.”
In years past, the House’s Veterinary Medicine Caucus played a leadership role in introducing key legislation that impacts veterinary medicine such as the VET MED Act, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, and the One Health Act. Another objective of the caucus was to secure funding for important veterinary-related federal programs. Congressional briefings to educate and inform staff had been organized by the caucus to support these initiatives. The Senate caucus will extend these efforts to their side of the chamber.
A version of this story appears in the October 2023 print issue of JAVMA