A Seat at the Table
By: Dr. Tracy Farone
This month, I have exciting news to share with the honey bee industry!
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which has over 100,000 member veterinarians, have a variety of Committees that report to the AVMA Board of Directors, including the Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee (AALC). After years of advocacy from members of the Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium (HBVC) and AVMA staff (shout out to Dr. Michael Costin, Dr. Terry Kane and Dr. Kristin Clark), the AALC will have a delegate veterinarian representing honey bees for the first time starting this year. The AALC consists of seats of representatives of other animal species like cattle, swine, chickens, etc. that veterinarians typically serve. Honey bees and their industry now have a delegate sitting on this committee to represent them. Dr. Terry Kane, DVM has been appointed to be the first primary HBVC delegate on the AALC, and I have been appointed as the alternate delegate.
The AALC activities include reviewing AVMA policy, reviewing and drafting positions on proposed state and federal legislation, developing new AVMA resources and reports, as well as participating in and developing presentations for various stakeholders. The AALC acts as a liaison between the AVMA Board and the producers and other stakeholders, to identify mutual concerns and working to strengthen relationships, while providing veterinary expertise1. The charge of the Committee is stated as follows:
- “Identify present and future issues of mutual concern to the veterinary profession and the producers of food products derived from animals.
- Strengthen relationships between AVMA and organizations related to animal agriculture.
- Improve communications and the flow of information among animal agriculture organizations inside and outside AVMA to support AVMA’s decision-making process.
- Provide expertise and content in the area of animal agriculture for the AVMA and serve as a primary resource for matters associated with animal agriculture.
- Advise on and develop animal agriculture policy and recommendations for submission to the AVMA Board of Directors.” (AVMA Animal Agricultural Liaison Committee. https://www.avma.org/membership/volunteering-avma/councils-committees-task-forces-and-trusts/animal-agriculture-liaison-committee. Accessed December 19th, 2022.)
Representatives from the following organizations are often involved in AALC meetings to provide their organization’s perspective on animal health and welfare issues. These organizations include: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM); U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS); USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS); USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES). 1AVMA Animal Agricultural Liaison Committee. https://www.avma.org/membership/volunteering-avma/councils-committees-task-forces-and-trusts/animal-agriculture-liaison-committee. Accessed December 19th, 2022.)
I have often talked with beekeepers lamenting about lack of recognition of their industry given the importance of honey bees, often with the bulk of the attention, concern and funding focused on other agricultural animal industries. I believe giving honey bees a seat at this table is an important step to leveling some attention to the industry to look at disease, public health and environmental health issues affecting the industry. I look forward to learning more about how this process works over the next three years of my term and I will do my best to give you updates on any progress that is made.