The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) welcomes today's passage of the agriculture spending bill by the U.S. House of Representatives, which increases annual funding for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) by $1 million to $9 million. This funding increase will help the program place more food animal veterinarians in rural areas to close veterinary access gaps. AVMA worked closely with Congress to secure this funding.
"The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program has been a tremendous success in connecting food animal veterinarians in rural communities that so badly need their services and public health veterinarians that are essential to maintaining the health of animals and humans alike. This funding is an important step toward helping the program expand its reach," said AVMA President Dr. John de Jong. "We're grateful to all of the lawmakers who in a bipartisan effort are committed to championing this program."
The spending bill also maintains $3 million in funding for the Veterinary Services Grant Program, which similarly helps meet rural veterinary needs by providing grants to support education and extension activities and practice enhancement initiatives for food animal veterinary services.
Of additional importance to veterinary medicine, the bill provides a $30 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, maintains level funding of $16.3 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, provides a $2 million increase for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics, and provides an increase of $4.2 million for APHIS Veterinary Diagnostics.
AVMA looks forward to working with Senate lawmakers as they develop their spending bill, and ensuring these funding levels remain in the final spending agreement between the House and Senate.