On Thursday, June 16, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Included in the final bill was an amendment to restore crucial funding to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which helps protect animal health and ensure a safe food supply. The amendment, offered by freshman Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), was supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) along with other concerned stakeholders.
Rep. Gardner introduced the amendment after the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee proposed eliminating $4.4 million in NAHLN funding from the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative for fiscal year 2012. The elimination of NAHLN funding alarmed the AVMA and other agriculture stakeholders. In a recent letter to the House Appropriations Committee, the AVMA warned that cutting funding to the laboratory network could put the nation’s animal health at serious risk. In addition, the AVMA, AAVLD and AAVMC met with congressional representatives to educate them about NAHLN’s importance and help draft wording for the amendment.
The battle for appropriations is not over. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has vowed that the Senate will not support the House-passed budget cuts, which total nearly $2 billion, for agriculture and nutrition. The AVMA will work with its coalition partners to ensure continued funding for programs important to the veterinary profession, animal health and food safety.
For more information, visit AVMA’s Congressional Activities page.