(WASHINGTON, DC) March 2, 2021—For the fifth Congressional cycle, there will be a Veterinary Medicine Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Veterinarians bring a unique perspective to federal legislation as the only health professionals with roles that benefit both animal and human health. The caucus will focus on educating members of Congress and their staffs about the issues and challenges the veterinary profession faces.
The caucus will be led by co-chairs Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), a veterinarian, and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD). In years past, the Veterinary Medicine Caucus has 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 will be to secure funding for important veterinary-related federal programs. Congressional briefings to educate and inform staff are organized by the caucus to support these initiatives.
"The Veterinary Medicine Caucus has been successful in stressing the importance of veterinary priorities to Congress," said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA President. "The veterinarian community has established itself as essential in matters of scientific research, public health, and the economy. The AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges will work diligently with the caucus and its co-chairs to ensure that the perspective of the veterinarian is well-represented in Washington, DC and will make issues of student debt, animal welfare, One Health, and small business a priority in Congress."
Rep. Schrader is the sole veterinarian in the U.S. Congress and represents Oregon's 5th Congressional District. This will be his fifth time acting as co-chair of the caucus and his sixth term in the House of Representatives. He serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
"I'm excited to welcome my colleague Congressman Dusty Johnson as the new co-chair of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus for the 117th Congress," said Rep. Schrader. "Veterinarians are routinely the only health professionals that operate at the interface of human and animal health. The caucus will work to highlight the important role veterinary medicine plays on research, public health, animal health and welfare, food safety, and the economy. As our country continues battling the Novel Coronavirus, we feel the caucus can play a critical role in keeping members informed about the ongoing challenges we face with zoonotic diseases and public health and we look forward to being part of that discussion."
Rep. Johnson is in his second term in Congress representing South Dakota. He currently serves on the Committee on Agriculture and is the Ranking Member of the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee. The congressman also serves on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
"Science-based animal health keeps South Dakota livestock and companion animals happy and healthy," said Rep. Johnson. "I'm proud to serve as co-chair of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus and will continue to advocate for science-driven policy, strong research and development in this growing industry."
"We're looking forward to working closely with the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Veterinary Medicine Caucus during the 117th Congress," said Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. "The COVID pandemic is just one example of why we need to make sure federal government policies help support and sustain the veterinary medical profession. We're honored to welcome Congressman Dusty Johnson as the new caucus co-chair, and we're looking forward to working with him and Congressman Kurt Schrader during this critical period in our nation's history."