Major Victories for Veterinary Priorities in New Spending Bill

If you've been following politics lately, you've probably heard that Congress is facing ongoing challenges in reaching agreements on spending levels. Lawmakers must navigate a limited budget and many competing priorities for funding, which means they need to make hard decisions and many important programs are at risk for cuts. That's why the AVMA works hard every year to protect and increase funding for programs related to veterinary priorities. [Source: AVMA@Work, May 8, 2017]

Last week, our work paid off. Congress passed a spending bill that maintains and even increases funding for many programs related to veterinary priorities, including animal health and welfare, agricultural research, biomedical research, antimicrobial use and combating resistance, and animal health laboratories. Our ability to protect funding for these key areas is a significant victory for the veterinary community, especially considering the tough budget environment.

We've put together a full summary of key funding levels and increases. Highlights include:

  • A boost of $1.5 million for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program brings funding up to $6.5 million and will result in up to 15 additional awards this year. This is a nearly 30 percent increase in awards offered.
  • The National Animal Health Laboratory Network received a $1.3 million increase to $16.3 million.
  • The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) received an additional $52 million, bringing the agency's budget to $946.2 million. Nearly half of the increase goes for emergency preparedness and response. Other APHIS highlights include:
    • Increases for the Animal Health and Technical Services ($2.518 million); the National Veterinary Stockpile ($1.75 million); Equine, Cervid and Small Ruminant Health ($500,000); Veterinary Diagnostics ($3 million); and Zoonotic Disease Management ($7 million increase dedicated to the National Animal Health Monitoring System).
    • Animal Welfare Act enforcement under APHIS received a boost of approximately $400,000 to $28.81 million.
  • The USDA research enterprise received increases with both Agriculture and Food Research Institute and Agricultural Research Service funding bumps of $25 million and $27 million, respectively.
  • The Food Safety and Inspection Service received $1.032 billion, a $12 million increase over fiscal 2016.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received a $2 billion increase, bringing funding for biomedical research to $34.1 billion. Within NIH, the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria initiative is funded at $463 billion, a $50 million increase.

    We're encouraged by these victories, but our work isn't over. Congress is currently considering funding levels for fiscal year 2018, which means we're already back to work advancing veterinary priorities. We're in frequent communication with congressional offices on these issues, and we've added our voice to several coalitions to amplify our efforts.

    Your voice can make a difference, too - we encourage you to visit our Congressional Advocacy Network to send a quick, pre-written letter to your representatives to in support of funding for vital programs like the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank. Your input can help tip the scales on these important funding decisions.

    If you're interested in our advocacy efforts, we encourage you to sign up for the AVMA Advocate newsletter for monthly updates and explore other ways you can get involved.