Farriers React to MVPA Proposal

Farriers across the country are asking the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to rethink its proposal to eliminate them from a list of exemptions in the latest suggested Model Veterinary Practice Act (MVPA) update on grounds that the decision could carry unintended consequences.

The AVMA says the MVPA serves as the cornerstone policy for practicing veterinarians as well as a resource for creating state veterinary practice acts. Initially developed in 1960 the act has been revised several times to reflect professional, technological, and societal changes in the way veterinarians practice their profession. For years, it has included “a list of carefully considered exemptions to the general rule that it is unlawful to practice veterinary medicine without a valid license,” which included “any person lawfully engaged in the art or profession of farriery,”

In January, the AVMA released proposed MVPA revisions that removed the exemption for farriers. The association invited members and others with a veterinary medicine interest to review and comment on the proposed revisions.

In response several equine-focused organizations—including the American Association of Professional Farriers and International Association of Professional Farriers (AAPF/IAPF), the American Farrier’s Association (AFA), the American Horse Council, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners—shared their thoughts.

“I think (the AVMA) was surprised by the reaction they have had,” said Bryan Quinsey, AAPF/IAPF executive director. “We’re all wondering why they (the AVMA) are doing this and why now—we just don’t know that.”

The AVMA’s Senior Medial Relations Specialist Michael San Filippo said the removal represented recognition by the MVPA Working Group that farriers’ work is well-established and, therefore, it’s not necessary to explicitly exempt them from the act.

“It is in no way an attempt to ban farriers from working independently or require a veterinarian to be involved in shoeing a horse,” San Filippo said. “Rather, it is an acknowledgment that farriery exists well outside of the definition of veterinary medicine and does not need to be included in the MVPA.”

Even so, AFA President Travis Burns, CJF, TE, EE, FWCF, believes removing the exemption could have unintended legislative consequences. In a letter he said the MVPA must include specific language indicating that farriery exists well outside of the definition of veterinary medicine.

“This will help prevent states from making rash decisions about the oversight of farriery, especially without the aid of organizations such as the American Farrier’s Association,” he said.

The MVPA Working Group will discuss all related comments when it meets April 4. The draft then moves on to the AVMA Council of Veterinary Service, AVMA Board of Directors, and House of Delegates groups for review.

“The draft will not become AVMA policy until approved by all of these bodies,” San Filippo said.

Whatever happens, Quinsey said farriers maintain a shared interest in equine health and welfare.

“We want a positive relationship with veterinarians,” he said.