Feds propose grant program to address veterinary shortages

Feds propose grant program to address veterinary shortages

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May 25, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
Washington — A new federal bill to motivate veterinarians to work in shortage areas like rural large- and mixed-animal medicine or public health was introduced May 24 in the U.S. Senate.

The Veterinary Services Investment Act (SB 1053) would establish a competitive grant program to “develop, implement and sustain necessary veterinary medical services to areas of the country in need,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). AVMA President Dr. Larry Kornegay says the bill’s introduction is “an important step toward addressing veterinary workforce needs.”

“Shortages of large- and mixed-animal, as well as public health, veterinarians could have dire consequences on human and animal health, public safety, animal welfare, disease surveillance and economic development. The (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has worked with state animal health officials all across the country to identify areas that have dire needs,” says Kornegay. “The fact is, this legislation will directly help address these needs, ensuring the well-being of livestock and helping protect public health.”

About 500 counties across the nation are without veterinary services despite having at least 5,000 farm animals, says AVMA. The association contends that the shortage could cause problems not only for farms and livestock, but for public health.

“The demand for veterinarians across the United States could increase by 14 percent by 2016,” says Kornegay. “This shortage not only affects the well-being of farmers and livestock but can have negative public health consequences.”

Specifically, the bill would provide grants for:

• Veterinarian, veterinary technician and student recruitment;
• Establishing or expanding veterinary practices or mobile veterinary services;
• Food-safety or food-animal medicine training programs;
• Establishing or expanding education programs, internships, residencies and fellowship programs;
• Continuing education programs; and
• Continued research on veterinary shortages.