By: Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division
On Feb. 2, President Obama released his fiscal 2016 budget request to Congress, including funding for many programs that are important to veterinary medicine.
Of particular interest to the veterinary medical community, the president proposed an increase in funding for various research activities, including those that impact animal health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would go from $30.1 billion to $31.3 billion, but fall short of the $32 billion sought by stakeholders, including the AVMA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative would see a large increase from $325 million to $425 million, while the agency’s intramural Agricultural Research Service would see a generous increase from $1.17 billion to $1.46 billion.
Antimicrobial resistance has been an area of concern for the veterinary profession from the first time antimicrobials were used on the farm to ensure animal health and welfare as well as food safety. The AVMA was pleased to see the president’s budget request nearly double the money used for research and surveillance programs across the federal government to combat and prevent antimicrobial resistance. Under the $1.2 billion proposed, $77 million is slated for the USDA, $47 million to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than $650 million for the NIH, and more than $280 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
The president proposed the same funding levels as fiscal 2015 for the following programs: the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program at $5 million, the Animal Health and Disease Research program at $4 million, the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank at $1.25 million, and the Food and Agro-Defense Initiative at $6.8 million.
Sadly, the president has again asked Congress to cut funding from $874 million to $855.8 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is the USDA agency responsible for administering the Animal Welfare Act, protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities, among other things. The president also left out funding for the newly authorized National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which is part of a nationwide network of laboratories that can perform important disease surveillance and testing services should a large-scale animal disease outbreak occur. The AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division will work diligently to restore funding to this important agency.