America's food supply is considered one of the world's safest, but it relies on veterinarians to  keep it that way. Food is enhanced, both in safety and wholesomeness, when veterinarians are involved in all steps of production and processing, says American Veterinary Medical Association officials.

Some groups in the veterinary community have formed a new coalition to assure the public that food continues to be abundant, safe and wholesome by ensuring that veterinarians are appropriately involved throughout the food-supply systems. 

Representatives from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, and the American Veterinary Medical Association have finalized an agreement to establish the Food-Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition.

Food-Supply Veterinary Medicine is a new term that encompasses all aspects of veterinary medicine's involvement in the food-supply system, from traditional agricultural production to consumption.

The Coalition's first major project is to conduct a comprehensive study comprised of multiple research phases addressing the demand for, and the availability of, food-supply veterinarians in the United States and Canada. 

David Andrus, professor and head of Kansas State University's department of marketing, will oversee a research team on the study entitled: "Estimating FSVM Demand and Maintaining the Availability of Veterinarians for Careers in Food Supply Related Disciplines in the United States and Canada."

Bayer Animal Health and the AVMA will equally share two thirds of the estimated $300,000 cost. The other coalition members will fund the remaining one third.

The project also will address student recruitment, retention and appropriate training of food-supply veterinarians in order to serve society. This project's expected completion is late summer 2005.

"This study will have profound and lasting effects on food-supply veterinary medicine and it is hoped that it will serve as a framework for future planning," Rod Sydenham, FSVMC's chairman

"This study will also provide valuable information for admissions officials, and faculty of veterinary colleges for recruiting and training the type of students likely to pursue a career in food supply veterinary medicine," says John Thomson, representing AAVMC.