Fall 2021
Gene Editing Reform Advocacy Underway
AAVMC worked with several other organizations to gather signatures on a letter from members of Congress to the FDA and the USDA. The effort was led by the American Soybean Association, and ultimately included two thirds of the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. A panel of experts convened by the AAVMC and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) spent 18 months studying the issue and called for “a remodeling of the federal regulatory landscape” if the technology is going to help address the food security and sustainability needs of a global population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050. The “AAVMC/APLU Gene Editing in Agriculture Task Force Report” suggests current regulatory protocols have not kept up with technological change and must be modernized in order for society to realize the many benefits of new scientific capabilities.
PSLF Action from the Department of Education
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) is one of the key issues that both AAVMC and AVMA focus on. The U.S. Department of Education recently announced some key changes and improvements to the program that will impact thousands of borrowers. Changes clear the way for 22,000 borrowers (including veterinarians and other healthcare providers) to become immediately eligible for $1.74 billion in loan forgiveness. Some 27,000 other borrowers could qualify for an additional $2.82 billion with proper documentation of qualifying employment. In other PSLF news, the American Federation of Teachers reached a landmark settlement in a PSLF lawsuit filed against the government. Click here to a story in the Vet-Med Educator on the PSLF changes. Click here to see a fact sheet on the overhaul of the program.
Dr. Sally Rockey to Retire from FFAR Post
Dr. Sally Rockey, a veteran federal government research administrator and friend of the AAVMC will retire at the end of the year. During her tenure as the inaugural executive director of the Foundation for Food & Agricultural Research (FFAR), Rockey oversaw the distribution of more than $650 million in funding designed to promote public-private sector collaboration on programs advancing food and agricultural research. Her support was instrumental in the formation of the FFAR/AAVMC Fellows Program. Prior to that post she served with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, now the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. She also worked with the National Institutes of Health, where she led the operations of the world’s largest extramural research program. 
Two-Year Student Loan Forbearance Period Ends January 31, 2021
The Biden administration has taken some measures and is considering others in the area of loan relief efforts, according to AAVMC Director for Governmental Affairs Kevin Cain.

  • Nearly $10 billion in debt for permanently disabled borrowers and defrauded students who attended for-profit colleges has been cancelled
  • The Senate confirmed James Kvaal on Sept. 14 as under-secretary of education, a role in which he will work on questions regarding debt forgiveness, student loan repayments, and litigation against the agency over Trump-era policies. He is expected to advocate for further loan forgiveness. 
  • As a part of the reconciliation package, Democrats hope to make at least two years of community college free for most Americans.
  • Student loan payments will restart after Jan. 31, 2022 following a two-year hiatus.

This is likely the final extension on forbearance from the Department of Education. The Department of Education is reported to be considering strategies to avoid a massive surge in delinquencies once the January 31, 2022 deadline is reached. They include implementing a 90-day grace period after the first payment is due when the pause ends, outreach by the Department to certain “at risk” groups of borrowers, increased call center hours for all loan services, and easing enrollment requirements for income-based repayment plans.
Appropriations and Debt Ceiling Delayed
During the last week of September and the first week of October, Congress essentially punted on two critical deadlines. First, they passed a continuing resolution that keeps the government open and funded at current levels through December 3. Next, they approved legislation lifting the debt ceiling by $480 billion, which would support federal spending through the same date, December 3. This obviously sets up another deadline that Congress will have to address before they adjourn for this year.
AAVMC Signs on to Amici Curiae Brief Concerning Legal Status of Animals
The AAVMC has signed onto a legal brief with the AVMA and the New York State Veterinary Medical Society contesting a lawsuit filed by the Non-Human Rights Project, Inc. that seeks to accord “bodily liberty” to an elephant named Happy who lives at the Bronx Zoo. The Amici curiae brief cites extensive case law that outlines a human-animal-legal relationship and animal welfare based upon human ownership of agricultural and companion animals. The suit filed by the Non-Human Rights Project, Inc. essentially seeks to bestow “personhood” on animals. The suit will now be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals. Click here to see the brief.
Meeting with USDA NIFA Staff
On Monday, Sept. 30, AAVMC had a productive meeting with several new staffers at USDA/NIFA who will be managing two of our critical programs. These are the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP). They informed us about some changes to the programs, including changes to the Guidance Manual for the VMLRP. Click here to see the highlights of the major changes to the manual.
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.
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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.

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