USDA solicits nominations for veterinary shortage areas

Veterinarian examining a dairy calfThe federal government’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) provides loan repayments to livestock and public health veterinarians who commit to practice in federally designated veterinary shortage areas, and program participants play a key role in supporting rural communities, using their skills to protect herd health, prevent the spread of animal diseases and promote animal welfare.

To ensure that the VMLRP places veterinarians where they are most needed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture annually solicits nominations of veterinary shortage areas for the program. Nominations for fiscal year 2018 are open and will be accepted through Oct. 20, 2017.

While only a designated chief state animal health official may officially submit nominations for shortage areas, AVMA members may contact their state animal health official with suggestions and input. You may also work with your state veterinary medical association to provide input.

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program is a vital tool for ensuring ranchers and farmers have access to veterinary care for their livestock animals, and accurate designation of shortage areas is key to the program’s success. If you have suggestions about shortage areas, we encourage you to reach out to your chief state animal health official or your state veterinary medical association.

The AVMA worked with Congress and the USDA to create and implement the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, and we continue to work to protect and increase funding for the program. We’re also encouraging Congress to pass the VMLRP Enhancement Act (S. 487/H.R. 1268), which would lift a tax on program awards to increase the program’s capacity. If you’re interested in supporting the VMLRP, you can use our online tool to send a letter asking your representatives in Congress to pass this legislation. It only takes a minute, and it’s a great way to make a difference!

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