Shrader calls on profession to help guide policy decisions in Washington


U.S. Rep. Kurt Shrader (D-Ore.), DVM, has been pulled into a number of discussions in Congress regarding public health, food safety and legislation targeting workforce expansion for veterinarians and calls on other DVMs and veterinary associations for input on policy decisions.

Portland, Ore. — There is something to be said about having a veterinarian in Congress, says U.S. Rep. Kurt Shrader (D-Ore.).

Legislative agenda: U.S. Rep. Kurt Shrader, DVM (D-Ore.), says that vets are well-positioned to help lawmakers sort out complicated public-health problems.

Why? Members of Congress are looking for expertise to help shape and guide key policy debates. During his first term in Congress, Shrader has been pulled into a number of discussions regarding public health, food safety and legislation targeting workforce expansion for veterinarians,

Associations, like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), play a crucial role in helping guide policymakers in their understanding and assessment of particular issues, Shrader told attendees at Banfield's 2009 Pet Health Care Industry Summit.

"The point is that veterinarians are the experts in many zoonotic diseases... We are the meat inspectors of the world. The public doesn't have a clue about this. There is more to our profession than treating Fido. Our profession is uniquely positioned."

Shrader joins Congress as one of a small minority of agricrats and remains very concerned about the shortage of veterinarians in underserved areas of practice and in government.

"Martha and I lived on a farm. We raised our kids on a farm, and we understand what it means to be from a farm background. We feel we do a good job. We have some of the best working environments in the world. We play by the toughest environmental standards, and we are raising the safest food in the world. Sometimes that is not seen by the public. We were able to help guide the discussion about food safety."

And it's just one issue in a packed agenda for Congress, Shrader says.

Health-care reform (see story, p. 1), energy independence and economic recovery are topping the congressional agenda.

Shrader encourages veterinarians to engage in the discussion as citizens, small-business owners and health-care professionals.

"Sometimes democracy is not pretty, but it's the best darn thing we have going in the world right now, and I urge you all to support it."

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