By: Gina Luke, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division
Forty-six veterinarians will soon be providing communities across America with crucial veterinary services, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement late last month of its annual Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) awards.
The USDA has awarded more than $4 million to these veterinarians to help repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in exchange for their three-year service in areas of the country where there is a lack of veterinary resources. The veterinarians will provide needed care to rural farms and ranches, and help protect both food safety and public health in 18 states.
As a result of AVMA’s and other stakeholders’ advocacy efforts, the USDA has awarded more than $21 million to 223 veterinarians practicing food animal or public health medicine across the country since 2010.
AVMA is working with U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Representative Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) to pass their legislation (S. 553 / H.R. 1125) to make the awards tax exempt. Currently, the USDA makes a federal tax payment to the Internal Revenue Service equal to 39 percent of the loan payment to offset the increase in income tax liability. If the awards were tax exempt, the USDA could make additional awards , meaning more rural communities could have access to the needed veterinary services.
The USDA does not release the names of veterinarians selected for VMLRP awards. If you are a recipient of one of this year’s awards or have previously participated in the program and are interested in being interviewed by AVMA about your experiences, please contact AVMA’s Victoria Broehm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the VMLRP, visit AVMA’s website.