USAgNet - 02/15/2010
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA had taken the first step toward implementing a plan to address veterinary shortages throughout rural America by repaying the student loans of qualified veterinarians in return for their services in areas suffering from a lack of veterinarians.
"USDA can help ensure there is a first line of defense against animal diseases across the United States by placing qualified veterinarians in areas where there is a critical need," Vilsack said. "This program will help reduce veterinary shortages, especially in the area of food animal medicine, which will reduce stress on producers and improve the health of the livestock industry."
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture administers the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which was established in the National Veterinary Medical Services Act of 2003. NIFA issued an interim rule for the program on July 9, 2009. Implementation of the program began on Jan. 22, 2010 when NIFA released a Federal Register notice asking for comments and nominations for shortage situations from the chief animal health official from each state and insular area and appropriate federal animal health officials. Guidance on what constitutes a shortage situation and nomination forms can be found on the NIFA Web site.
NIFA will convene a panel of federal and state animal health experts to recommend submitted nomination packages for official designation as a veterinary shortage situation. The public will be able to review designated veterinary shortage situations in list and/or map form, along with information describing the nature of the shortage situation.
The agency expects to begin accepting applications from veterinarians wishing to participate in the program on April 30, 2010.