WASHINGTON — National Veterinary Medical Services Act (NVMSA) funds are being offered to veterinarians who take jobs with the government's
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The program, outlined in the Aug. 24 Federal Register, earmarks $750,000 of the $1 million appropriated for NVMSA to repay
the education loans of veterinarians who fill vacant FSIS posts. FSIS is a public health agency within the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA).
USDA plans to reserve $50,000 of NVMSA funds for administrative costs and save $200,000 for future needs.
Authorized by Congress in 2003 and first funded in 2006, NVMSA provides loan repayment to veterinarians who agree to practice
in DVM-deficient areas. While the act's original intent was to award funds to private practitioners, it's morphed into a program
that's currently serving government agencies.
Officials in organized veterinary medicine have criticized this directive as well as the delay within USDA's Cooperative State
Research, Education & Extension Service to write the rules for NVMSA's allocation to the private veterinary sector.
Government officials insist the current outline is an initial phase for the program. Yet future plans are unclear, insiders
"The spirit of NVMSA is somewhat being followed, but private practitioners are not benefiting yet," says Brian Smith, lobbyist
with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. "USDA has been very vague about whether or not this is something
they will remedy in the future."