House Agriculture Committee discusses veterinary services in Pa.

KENNETT SQUARE, Oct. 11 – Today, the Pennsylvania House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee held an informational meeting at PennVet’s New Bolton Center to learn about the challenges facing veterinary medicine in the commonwealth.

“Agriculture is an economically and culturally critical industry in Pennsylvania, and our veterinarians play a vital role in keeping livestock healthy, preventing and treating diseases, and ensuring the humane treatment of animals,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Eddie Day Pashinski said. “Today’s meeting was an opportunity for our members to better understand the challenges facing veterinary medicine in Pennsylvania and begin identifying solutions that support the people keeping Pennsylvania’s animals healthy and ensuring access to veterinary medicine across our commonwealth.”

At the hearing, committee members heard testimony from:

  • Dr. Andrew Hoffman, Dean, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine.
  • Dr. Erin Luley, Executive Director, Assistant Director, Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, PA Department of Agriculture. 
  • David Buckwalter, 2nd-year student, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine.

  • Dr. Jim Holt, PVMA Board of Trustees, Equine Member at Large.
  • Dr. Theodore Zajac III, VMD, Veterinarian and owner of Upper Saucon Animal Hospital Inc.
  • Daniel Dotterer, Rural Sheep Farmer, Owner Dotterer Farm.

During the hearing, committee members heard about the important roles veterinary medicine plays in ensuring animal health and the safety of their products for human consumption, supporting Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, caring for family pets and more. Veterinarians face a variety of challenges, including student debt, mental health, and a shortage of veterinarians – particularly in rural areas.

“Veterinarians are vital to ensuring the health and welfare of animals that sustain the Commonwealth’s agricultural industry,” said Andrew M. Hoffman, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “As the state’s only veterinary school, we are compelled to consider how to best deploy resources to address veterinary workforce shortages. This includes training of the next generation, and support for our current veterinarians particularly in Pennsylvania’s rural communities; and ultimately, how this workforce can assist farmers to optimize food production, profits, and long-term sustainability and growth. I want to thank Chairmen Pashinski and Moul, and the members of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for visiting Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center. Thank you for facilitating a platform to discuss the specific initiatives that we have underway here at Penn Vet – and nationally – as we address veterinary workforce shortages, as well as demonstrate our broader support of veterinary medicine across the commonwealth.”

“I am very grateful to New Bolton Center for hosting our committee today, and for this opportunity to have heard from large animal vets, PDA and University of Pennsylvania on the growing vet shortage in PA,” Sappey said. “The high tuition, burn out and lack of nurse and tech support have led to many leaving the large animal care practice, placing our farmers and vets in a very challenging position. Numerous recommendations were made and I’m committed to the work we need to do as a state to support veterinary professionals who keep our animals and food safe and healthy.”

Information about this hearing and other House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee hearings can be found here and here.