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WHEREAS, for the second consecutive year, the approved FY2007-2008 New Jersey annual budget allocated only $687,000 to the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Education Contract Program (NJVMECP), less than 55 percent of New Jersey’s contractual obligation to the seven Colleges of Veterinary Medicine participating in the program for the seats they had allocated to New Jersey residents in the past three years, and failing to provide for the assignment of new seats for the incoming class of 2011; and

WHEREAS, four of the seven colleges have dropped out of the program and are no longer reserving seats exclusively for New Jersey residents: University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, University of Illinois and Iowa State University.  Only eight reserved seats were allocated this year, four at Tufts University, two at Tuskegee and two at Oklahoma State, cutting the program by 60 percent; and

WHEREAS,  this is a work force and education issue.  Due to the absence of a College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in New Jersey, the NJVMECP contracted seats at established CVMs to be reserved for New Jersey residents since 1971.  There are only 28 CVMs in the United States.  Of the 22 states that lack a CVM, only three do not have a contract program (Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island).  Since 1972 there have been an average of 24 New Jersey contract seats available per year, without which our qualified residents would have had less than a 1 in 30 (three percent) chance of being accepted to an American College of Veterinary Medicine.  The contract seats improve that access by over 600 percent (1 out of 5).  Over 125 New Jersey residents were seeking admission to the contract schools for the fall of 2007.  With only eight seats available their chances for admission plummeted to only 1 in 15.  The NJVMECP has provided access to education to over 26 percent of the 1,675 veterinarians currently licensed in New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, the budget requested by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) would cover 24 seats for the full four years it takes to get a veterinary degree, representing a significant cost efficiency of the NJVMECP.  Since 1972, the state has spent a total of $36,950,000 to provide access for 744 New Jersey residents to receive a veterinary education.  This is only 2.6 percent of the cost of educating the same number of veterinarians if the state had established its own college ($380,000 per graduate); and

WHEREAS, veterinarians not only provide medical care to the millions of animals owned by New Jersey residents but also play essential roles in the state’s pharmaceutical and equine industries, federal, state and local government agencies (e.g., USDA, NJDA, NJDHSS); and in homeland security/anti-bioterrorism efforts. Veterinarians also are essential to the many colleges and universities that have animal research and/or teaching programs; and

WHEREAS, in the next ten years the need for veterinarians in New Jersey is projected to increase by 69 percent, the highest increase in the nation.  Providing New Jersey residents with reasonable access to veterinary education with a mandatory return clause will enable the state to retain the number of professionals needed for the ongoing success of the pharmaceutical and equine industries, provision of health care for New Jersey animals and essential contributions to homeland security efforts.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 93rd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 6, 2008, urge that New Jersey’s agricultural community support the requested budget,  $1,505,538.00 for FY2007-2008 for the NJVMECP with a new provision that recipients of contract seats will be required to work in New Jersey for at least four years after completion of their education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we, the delegates, embrace the new requirement to require repayment to the state of capitation fees paid on behalf of the students if they do not return to work in New Jersey for the requi