The Hill, a congressional newspaper based in Washington, D.C., published an op-ed on Friday by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, highlighting the need for Congress to pass a Farm Bill so that veterinarians and scientists can continue ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply and guarding against diseases that impact animal and public health. The op-ed comes only a day after AVMA, along with 531 other organizations representing all facets of U.S. agriculture, sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) urging him to bring the House’s version of the Farm Bill back to the floor for consideration.
The op-ed, which The Hill published Friday on its Congress Blog, is available below:
Veterinarians need a Farm Bill, too
By: AVMA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Dr. W. Ron DeHaven
The U.S. House’s recent vote to strike down its own version of the Farm Bill is a major defeat to veterinarians and scientists who work on the front lines every day to ensure the safety of our food supply and guard our nation against diseases that impact animal and public health. Essential veterinary programs that rely on this legislation are stuck in limbo until Congress takes action.
Our nation’s food security relies on the important scientific and diagnostic work that shields against foreign animal diseases and the threats of agro-terrorism attacks. This is why we were encouraged to see that the recent House Farm Bill (H.R. 1947) and its companion Senate bill (S. 954) authorized Congress to provide the necessary funding for our nation’s animal disease surveillance program—the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). The NAHLN works to detect emerging and zoonotic diseases so we can better protect public and animal health.
And just as we can’t let our guard down against diseases, we must continue to support programs that help us learn even more about the animal diseases that could devastate livestock and animal agriculture. By giving our nation’s scientists the resources they need to conduct innovative food and agriculture research, we can enhance animal health and production and protect food safety.
AVMA supports research grants to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the Animal Health and Disease Research Formula Funds, which were included in both the House and Senate Farm Bills. These programs enhance America’s knowledge and expertise in animal diseases. In addition, we supported the Senate’s leadership in S. 954 for establishing both a new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, which would foster continued innovation in agricultural research, and a Farm Animal Agriculture Integrated Research Initiative. This initiative would create a competitive grants program that promotes food security and examines the interrelationship between animal and human health as well as environmental stewardship.