Proposed changes to the Model Veterinary Practice Act (MVPA) are not an attempt to exert control over the equine hoof-care industry, according to an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) representative. However, the question of whether farriers can continue to perform their jobs will be subject to the interpretation of state laws.

The AVMA recently proposed a number of changes to the MVPA, including the elimination of the farrier exemption from the definition of practice of veterinary medicine.

“The proposed removal of ‘farriery’ from the exemption section of the MVPA is in no way an attempt to ban farriers from working independently or require a veterinarian to be involved in shoeing a horse,” Michael San Filippo, the AVMA’s senior media relations specialist, wrote in an email to American Farriers Journal and others. “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.”

The current MVPA exempts farriers from Section 2 – Definitions, subsection 15 of the MVPA, which defines “Practice of veterinary medicine,” in part, as:

“1. To diagnose, prognose, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; including the:

i. performance of any medical or surgical procedure, or

ii. prescription, dispensing, administration, or application of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, anesthetic, or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance, or

iii. use of any complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies, or …

v. determination of the health, fitness, or soundness of an animal, or

vi. rendering of advice or recommendation by any means including telephonic and other electronic communications with regard to any of the above.”

Further, the current MVPA — which was enacted in 2013 — prohibits the use of “any title, words, abbreviation, or letters in a manner or under circumstances that induce the belief that the person using them is qualified to do any act described in subsection 16(a).”

When asked specifically whether farriers would be exempt from the individual points described in the definition of practicing veterinary medicine, San Filippo wrote to AFJ that would be the purview of government entities.

“My understanding is that because farriery exists so far outside of veterinary medicine and should not be included in a state’s [VPA],” he wrote, “that those concerns should therefore be addressed elsewhere in state law/regulation.”

When changes are made to the MVPA, commentary is included to explain changes and shed light upon the rationale behind the changes. While proposed explanations for changes have been included in the proposed MVPA, no rationale or explanation has been supplied for the proposed elimination of the farrier exemption. When asked in the original email correspondence whether an explanation would be included in the proposed MVPA, San Filippo did not respond.

San Filippo stresses that the proposed MVPA is not a foregone conclusion.

“The MVPA is being revised with the input the AVMA receives from its members and the public, so farriers (and others) can address those concerns to the group accepting comments about the MVPA,” he wrote.

Comments for the proposed MVPA are being accepted until Sunday, March 25, 2018.

“This open comment period provides veterinarians and others with a unique opportunity to make their voices heard on a matter that directly impacts the daily practice of veterinary medicine,” according to a news release attributed to Dr. Mike Topper, AVMA president. “The AVMA — indeed, the entire profession — is stronger when diverse perspectives are considered.”

Topper is a board-certified veterinary pathologist. He retired in 2017 after 12 years as director of clinical pathology at Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc., in West Point, Pa.

A group will review all comments at the end of the comment period. Recommendations from the group will be sent to the Council on Veterinary Service for further review. The AVMA Board of Directors will consider the final draft of the revised MVPA.

To provide your comment and suggested changes to the MVPA, visit