AVMA Implores Congress to End Government Shutdown

AVMA Implores Congress to End Government Shutdown

The AVMA says crucial veterinary programs that ensure animals' health and welfare are currently short-staffed or halted.

Photo: Photos.com

Last week, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) called upon Congress to reopen the U.S. government so that our nation’s federal employees who promote the health and welfare of animals, guard the country against disease outbreaks, and ensure food safety can get back to work. 

“Not only is Congress affecting the lives of more than 800,000 federal employees by its lack of action, it is compromising the health and wellbeing of millions of animals,” Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, AVMA’s chief executive officer, said Oct. 4. “Each day that the U.S. government is shutdown, we are faced with a dwindling supply of available vaccines to keep livestock healthy, a lack of inspections that protect animals from abuse, and a dearth of food safety inspections. Our elected officials need to double down on their efforts to come to a bipartisan, bicameral agreement, and put Americans back to work so they can continue protecting the health and welfare of animals and the public.”

On a positive note, yesterday (Oct. 8) the AVMA announced that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack decided to deem some employees within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) as “excepted,” allowing them to return to work during the government shutdown—a move the organization praised.

The AVMA said the USDA excused these individuals from the furlough so that they can continue to ensure that veterinarians and farmers have access to the important vaccinations they need to keep animals healthy. Without them there, the CVB cannot test or release new vaccines into the marketplace, leaving veterinarians and farmers faced with a dwindling vaccine supply, which could endanger herd health, food safety, and public health, the AVMA said.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his thoughtful action in resuming the approval of batches of vaccines, which are essential to keep food animals and the public healthy,” said DeHaven. “We always emphasize that healthy food starts with healthy animals and allowing veterinarians to have access to critical vaccines is an important preventive measure that must continue even in the midst of the federal government shutdown. I applaud Secretary Vilsack for reevaluating the merits of this program and having the foresight to appreciate its importance to ensuring a safe and affordable food supply for Americans."

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