Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture and animal science concerned with the care, breeding and management of cows, pigs, chickens, horses and other farm animals. Husbandry workers play a vital role keeping large animals healthy, and farms and ranches productive.
Only about two dozen community and other colleges offer majors in animal husbandry. Fortunately, most husbandry workers can and do learn about breeding, nutrition, housing, processing and marketing of animals from on-the-job training. Hands-on training and repeated practice of procedures such as dehorning, branding and castrating are an effective way of learning and offer husbandry workers great opportunities to become competent in their interests. Moreover, farm and ranch owners are in the best position to judge the quality of workers because they can ill afford incompetence on even the most routine and repeated procedure.
The demand for husbandry workers continues to grow for many reasons including because a large percentage veterinarians limit their services to cats and dogs. Per the American Veterinary Medical Association’s own research, only 7 percent of veterinarians practice exclusively or predominately on food animals. By contrast, nearly 75 percent of U.S. veterinarians practice exclusively or predominantly on companion animals.
Despite its own findings, the AVMA continues to advocate for state legislators to maintain occupational licensing laws that grant its members monopolistic control over all animal-related services. As in many trade associations, the AVMA’s culture of protectionism is masked in concern for customers, animals or public health even when veterinary colleges rarely teach the specific skills the AVMA lobbies for its members to control or receive a fee for supervising.
State legislators should resist such blatantly anti-competitive rent-seeking. Instead, legislators should exempt animal husbandry works from their state’s veterinary practice acts. IJ’s model bill empowers farm and ranch owners to choose freely who they want to provide husbandry services. It presents the best language for states to exempt husbandry workers from veterinary licensing laws and allows them pursue their calling free from unreasonable regulations and the unbridled self-interests of well-heeled trade associations like the AVMA.