Veterinarians are grateful to Senator Tim Johnson for his efforts to pass legislation advancing their legislative agenda. The Democratic lawmaker from South Dakota was awarded the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Advocacy Award, presented by the organization’s CEO, Dr. Ron DeHaven and its President, Dr. René Carlson.
The Advocacy Award is presented to an individual for significant leadership in advancing the AVMA’s legislative agenda and for supporting the veterinary profession.
Specifically, the AVMA cites Johnson’s membership on the Senate Appropriations Committee making sure that there’s funding for food-safety, agriculture research, and animal-health and welfare programs. Senator Johnson says there are many pressing issues, but he said he’s committed to pushing legislation to bring more veterinarians to rural areas so that livestock producers have access to quality animal care.
Senator Johnson sponsored the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRP), which exempts loan repayment awards from federal income taxes. In exchange for signing a contract with the USDA to practice food animal medicine or public health in a federally designated veterinary shortage situation for three years, veterinarians participating in the program receive up to $25,000 annually to repay student loans. Presently VMLRP awards are taxed at 39 percent.
“Exempting the VMLRP awards from federal income taxation will lead to more communities having needed veterinary services sooner than they may otherwise,” said DeHaven. “It will help to ensure that our nation’s livestock are healthy, that our food supply is safe and secure, and our nation’s public health is protected.”
Senator Johnson understands the important role veterinarians play in keeping the U.S. animal agriculture economy strong, said Dr. DeHaven, calling Senator Johnson “a stalwart ally of the profession, and AVMA is proud to call him a friend.”