Spring 2022
2022 Advocacy Day Recap
Although our annual conference was presented in a hybrid format, Advocacy Day 2022 remained all virtual, due to ongoing restrictions on visitors to Capitol Hill. Despite that, AAVMC members held 133 meetings with 25 states represented. Twenty-five of those meetings were with the members of Congress, while the rest were with senior staff. Our three strategic priorities have already been getting a great response, as more than ten new members have signed on as co-sponsors to our bills. A few sample notes that we have seen as a direct result of Advocacy Day include:

“I also have an update that you might be interested in, I followed up with the Senator and we will be co-sponsoring the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act! You made a compelling case, and we are always happy to support the great work you’re doing in Iowa. In addition, I look forward to visiting Iowa State in April.”
From a legislative assistant in the Senate.

“It was a pleasure to meet with you and Dr. Meurs last week. I just want to follow up to let you know that Rep. Ross has signed on as a cosponsor of the bills we discussed during our meeting.”
From a legislative assistant in the House.

Thank you to everyone who attended. You are making a difference on the Hill on behalf of academic veterinary medicine.
Up Next:
President Biden recently signed into law the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations legislation. Despite being delayed for several months, this legislation is great news that impacts our strategic priorities:

  • $10 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), to $445 million
  • $1 million increase in the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), to $9.5 million
  • $.5 million increase in the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP), to $3.5 million
  • $10 million increase for the Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative at CDC, to $182 million
  • $2.025 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, to $44.959 billion
  • $400 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award, bringing it to $6895

The giant piece of spending legislation also contained other items of interest to AAVMC members. These included $5 million to establish a “Farm of the Future” testbed and demonstration site, in addition to the funds provided in FY 2021, as well as $300,000 to “convene a blue-ribbon panel for the purpose of evaluating overall structure of research and education throughout public and land grant universities, including 1890 Institutions, to define a new architecture that can better integrate, coordinate and assess economic impact of the collective work of these institutions.”

Finally, the bill also includes $1 million for the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority, known as AGARDA.
FASEB/AAVMC Hill Briefing
A joint briefing of more than 230 attendees was held between the AAVMC and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The AAVMC's Director for Governmental Affairs Kevin Cain helped moderate the discussion as a special guest working collaboratively with Rep. Kurt Schrader’s office. The briefing packet is available here.

Animal research plays a fundamental role in improving public health, upholding national security, and securing the nation’s competitive edge on the global stage. Numerous biomedical advancements that enhance the quality of life are direct results of investments in scientific studies with animals. Examples include the discovery of insulin for patients with diabetes, invention of the cardiac pacemaker, and innovative technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging. More recently, research in rodents, hamsters, and nonhuman primates enabled researchers to produce the COVID-19 vaccines. Its rapid development serves as a testament to the decades of research on messenger RNA, virology, and the immune system, research that required animals.

The use of non-animal alternatives (often known as “new approach methodologies” or NAMs) is an emerging field of study that involves experimental techniques that do not require live animals. Examples include cell-based (in-vitro) tests, organs on a chip, and computer (in-silico) models. While scientists utilize these techniques when feasible, these approaches do not address critical aspects of animal or human physiology and behavior. In many cases, non-animal methods require further validation in animal models. Therefore, the scientific consensus remains that for the foreseeable future, non-animal alternatives can only supplement—not replace—ongoing biomedical work.

As competing nations progressively increase investments in biomedical research, it is critical to leverage and expand ongoing research with animals to advance clinical breakthroughs and revitalize economic return on investments. Understanding the advantages and limitations of animal and non-animal models in clinical and basic science contexts is essential to establish evidence-based policies governing the research enterprise and its effective stewardship of limited taxpayer funds. The Congressional briefing convened scientific experts, animal care staff, policymakers, and regulators to clearly communicate ongoing challenges and misconceptions associated with animal research and understand the importance of implementing policies that prioritize human and animal health.
USDA/APHIS Strategic Framework Update from Mike Watson, APHIS Associate Administrator
USDA/APHIS announced a new strategic framework for enhancing surveillance of emerging zoonotic disease, such as Covid. The strategic framework addresses the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and many future emerging pathogens with zoonotic potential. It is intentionally broad to allow for flexibility and creativity moving forward.

Some of the key takeaways from feedback provided include:

  • Recognizing significant partnerships with multiple One Health partners.
  • Outreach and education to strengthen a core mission to not only disseminate information, but offer learning opportunities.
  • There is a need to focus on wildlife and the environment to include vector-borne disease.
  • The implementation of a successful initiative will require the thoughts and actions of many, including our partners, and we look forward to continued discussions and new collaborations around such a critical initiative.

The first goal is surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in susceptible animals. Some activities have already begun, but much of the hard work is still ahead. To follow along for updates on projects aligned with APHIS’ broader One Health efforts, visit here to learn more and sign up for updates.

These efforts and the resulting early warning system will serve the country for many years to come. If done well, the system will allow us to alert public health partners to potential threats so they can take steps sooner to prevent or limit the next global pandemic.
Free and Open Academic Inquiry and Debate on Our Campuses is Essential to Our Democracy and National Wellbeing
The AAVMC has signed onto a letter in support of free and open exchange on our college campuses. The letter, written by the American Council on Education (ACE), states that "colleges and universities exist to examine complex issues, challenges, and ideas, and to provide a forum in which issues and opinions can be explored and openly debated." In our intensely politicized and divided country, with social media and societal silos coarsening already heated conversations, this can be extraordinarily challenging. Yet, fostering a rigorous and civil exchange of ideas has never been more important. To best serve American society, higher education institutions are committed to transparent intellectual inquiry and academic excellence, free speech, and civil discourse. It is incumbent on our governmental institutions to share and support this commitment. See the letter.
Advocacy Letters

The AAVMC continues to work closely with a wide array of organizations that share our interests in supporting the advancement of academic veterinary medicine, food security and public health. The letters below reflect some of that recent activity.

Please contact: AAVMC Governmental Affairs Director Kevin Cain at kcain@aavmc.org or 202-371-9195 (ext. 117) with any comments, questions and suggestions about our program.
AAVMC Newsletters

The AAVMC is working hard to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in every dimension of academic veterinary medicine. To foster this goal, the photographs and illustrations which are used in our communications programs are aspirational, and do not necessarily reflect the levels of diversity and inclusion that currently exist.

Sign up to receive the Vet-Med Educator in your inbox here. See past issues here
Sign up here to receive FOCUS, a quarterly newsletter that examines prominent issues in academic veterinary medicine. See past issues here.
Sign up for our Advocacy newsletter here. Read past issues here
Sign up for the newsletter of the Council on International Veterinary Medical Education (CIVME) here. Read past issues here.
American Association of Veterinary
Medical Colleges

655 K Street, NW, Suite 725
Washington, D.C., 20001