The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week more than 40 awards to help veterinarians repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in return for serving areas of the United States lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The awards, totaling more than $4.6 million, were made by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and will benefit 30 states.
Veterinarians are critical to America's food safety and food security, and to the health and well-being of both animals and humans. Major studies indicate significant and growing shortages of food-supply veterinarians and veterinarians serving in certain other high-priority specialty areas. A leading cause for this shortage is the heavy cost of four years of professional veterinary medical training, which can average more than $150,000, according to the latest American Veterinary Medical Association survey of graduating veterinary students.
Recipients are required to commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage area. Thirty states will fill at least one shortage area through VMLRP. Texas will fill four shortage areas and Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma and South Dakota will each fill three shortage areas.
A map showing all designated shortage areas and areas that were filled is available at www.nifa.usda.gov/nea/animals/in_focus/vmlrp_12/vmlrp_shortage_situation_usmap.html.