There’s good news for veterinarians in the spending bill approved Friday by Congress and the president.
The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill averted a government shutdown by providing funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2018. At more than 2,000 pages, the bill covers a wide range of policy items—and includes several funding victories for veterinary medicine.
As part of the AVMA’s ongoing advocacy work, we communicate closely with lawmakers about funding for important veterinary initiatives each year, including programs related to animal health, animal welfare and public health. We’re pleased to see these efforts rewarded, as these programs all fared well in the omnibus bill. Highlights include:
- $1.5 million increase for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, to $8 million
- Continuation of funding for the Veterinary Services Grant Program at the same level as before: $2.5 million
- $1.25 million increase to the fully authorized funding level of $2.5 million for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank
- $25 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
- $24 million increase for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, including language directing the agency to provide $7.5 million toward public health veterinarian recruitment and retention
- Increased funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to $982 million, up $36 million from 2017
- $350 million for payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and $2.3 million for borrower education
Competing spending priorities and a challenging budget environment can make it difficult to maintain – let alone increase – funding levels for any budget items. This makes these funding victories all the more significant.
AVMA will work to continue this great momentum into the 2019 fiscal year. In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for you to urge your Congressional delegation to support veterinary priorities in the next funding cycle. To keep apprised of these updates, and to learn more about the AVMA’s advocacy efforts and how to get involved, add your name as a member of the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network.