July 31, 2012

The Importance of Advocacy (a soapbox blog)

By Rachel Dory

     Yesterday the GRD office hosted a meeting between several folks from the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) and Noah Engelberg, the Program Examiner, Agriculture Branch, Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President. I was able to sit in on this meeting, which endeavored to convince Mr. Engelberg to include funding for FARAD in the President’s annual budget. I was surprised to find out that this program is not automatically funded, and these people must lobby for the same funding every year. These gentlemen, like most of the veterinarians I’ve had the opportunity to speak with recently, were very passionate about their work and determined to educate Mr. Engelberg on the function and importance of FARAD.

     Now, as a veterinary student, my pharmacology professor had my class utilize the FARAD website to demonstrate what a useful tool it can be, so to hear how precarious the program is seems absurd to me. I suppose it just goes to show how specialized and unique veterinary medicine is, but also how important it is for veterinarians themselves to stand up and fight for the issues that affect them.

     I’ve had multiple discussions just today about how apathetic most veterinarians are when it comes to legislative advocacy, or really any issue they don’t perceive as directly affecting them. There seems to be a lack of interest to do things outside of the practice of veterinary medicine, without realizing that so much of how we practice is dependent on the laws that are passed by people who don’t know anything about veterinary medicine. This is a problem. Other, larger professional groups may get away with their members being disinterested in legislative matters, but because the veterinary profession is so small and so specialized it is the responsibility of every member to look beyond their own practice and work to promote the profession. The future of veterinary medicine depends on it, and as my time at the GRD comes to a close I’ve realized that this is how I want to translate my experience here. Acting on a local level to influence our government and encouraging others to do the same is a simple but effective way to share my privileged experience with others.


Unrelated: Veiw of the Capitol and Pennsylvania Ave from atop the Newseum (the best museum in DC)