AVMA President-elect Dr. Clark Fobian along with AVMA Executive Board Chairman Dr. Janver Krehbiel presented U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) with the 2012 AVMA Advocacy Award today in Washington, D.C. AVMA recognized Sen. Stabenow last August for her continuous work in championing legislation that is important to veterinary medicine, but due to scheduling conflicts could not formally present her with the award until today.
“Senator Stabenow keenly understands the important role veterinarians play in protecting animal health and welfare, food safety and security, as well as international health certification and trade,” said Dr. Janver Krehbiel, AVMA Executive Board chair and veterinarian from Michigan. “She supports policies that give veterinarians the tools they need to carry out their critical roles in disease surveillance, detection and eradication.”
Among her many accomplishments for veterinary medicine, Sen. Stabenow sponsored the Veterinary Services Investment Act (VSIA) last year, which would establish a competitive grants program to relieve the nation’s veterinary shortages and support related activities, including recruitment, retention, and continuing education programs for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. She ensured that the legislation was included in the Senate’s version of the 2012 farm bill, which the Senate recently reintroduced in the 113th Congress.
Sen. Stabenow also cosponsored the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) Enhancement Act last Congress and intends to cosponsor it again when it is reintroduced this Congress. The VMLRP is a program that places veterinarians in rural areas of the country where there is a need for veterinary services in exchange for student loan reimbursement. The program is currently taxed at a rate of 39 percent, but the VMLRP Enhancement Act would make the program tax free, thus giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture the ability to award more veterinarians the opportunity to serve in shortage areas without adding Congressional appropriations.
Sen. Stabenow’s strategic position as chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and on the budget, energy and natural resources, and finance committees puts her in a unique position to be able to address animal agriculture issues.
“Sen. Stabenow’s extraordinary leadership of the Agriculture Committee ensures that our country will continue to lead the world in the production of safe and affordable food, that there are new and ample resources to advance food and agricultural research, and that our nation’s animal health and welfare programs remain strong,” Dr. Krehbiel said.