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WHEREAS, the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Education Contract Program (NJVMEC), established in 1971, compensates for the lack of a college of veterinary medicine in the State of New Jersey by “purchasing” seats for New Jersey residents at existing colleges in other states, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, Cornell University, and others; and

WHEREAS, these “purchased” seats are then available only to between 90 and 120 New Jersey residents applying for admission to those veterinary schools; and

WHEREAS, since the inception of the program, 744 New Jersey residents have occupied contract seats at out-of-state universities, of which more than 60 percent currently resident and work in New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, DVM magazine listed New Jersey as having a projected 69-percent growth in available veterinary jobs from 2002-2012, placing the state first in the nation in the increased need for veterinarians; and

WHEREAS, this increased need includes positions not only for veterinary practitioners to take care of the millions of animals owned by New Jersey residents, but also in the pharmaceutical industries, state and local Departments of Health, regulatory agencies, animal control, wildlife agencies and colleges or universities that have animal research programs; and

WHEREAS, There are over 600 veterinary hospitals in New Jersey, ranging in size from a single veterinarian to over 50 practitioners, serving communities where with practice loads of at least 7,000 to well over 100,000 pet-owning families; and

WHEREAS, equine practitioners provide mobile service to the $710 million equine industry's 70,000 animals, health and regulatory officials, pharmaceutical company employees and research scientists; and

WHEREAS, there currently are approximately 1,675 veterinarians working in New Jersey, over 26percent of which attended veterinary school on the NJVMEC seats; and

WHEREAS, the NJVMEC program is a significant factor in encouraging New Jersey residents, especially women and minorities, to enroll in New Jersey universities for their undergraduate Pre-Veterinary requirements and over 50 percent of incoming Animal Science majors declare pre-veterinary medicine as their curricular focus, citing the availability of NJVMEC contract seats in making their decision to attend New Jersey schools instead of going out of state to establish residency elsewhere; and

WHEREAS, there are currently 96 New Jersey residents in NJVMEC seats, and the decision to cut the funding in half for FY2007 resulted in schools denying admission to qualified New Jersey residents, making the contract schools reluctant to open their doors to new New Jersey residents in the future; and

WHEREAS, it costs colleges of veterinary medicine $95,000 per year to educate a single veterinary student, and since 1971 the NJVMEC has spent $36.95 million to educate 744 veterinarians versus the $1.1 billion it cost to actually educate them, demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of the program; and

WHEREAS, if the program is discontinued, New Jersey residents pursuing a career in veterinary medicine will have less than a 1-in-30 chance of gaining admittance to an accredited college of veterinary medicine in North America, according to the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Education Advisory Committee.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 92nd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 14, 2007, support the continuation of the NJVMEC program as a cost-effective and proven method of educating New Jersey residents pursuing careers in veterinary medicine.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature and Governor to approve at least the $1,505,538 requested to fund the program at its current level in the FY2008 budget.