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House passes bill to address vet shortage

The House has passed a bill that would provide grants to improve food animal veterinary services across the country—especially in underserved rural areas.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Adrian Smith of Nebraska, who hopes the legislation will help ease a shortage of farm animal veterinarians.  Smith cites Cherry County in the Nebraska Sandhills as an example of the problem that livestock producers are facing.

“In Cherry County, we have 145-thousand livestock animals to every single veterinarian,” Smith says. “That’s a problem—that is obviously a shortage we need to reverse—and this bill will accomplish exactly that.”

The measure authorizes the USDA to award federal matching funds for programs or activities that will substantially relieve veterinary shortages.  Some activities that would be eligible include veterinarian and vet staff recruitment and establishment of mobile veterinary clinics. 

The bill builds on previous legislation which helps veterinarians who elect to practice in underserved areas repay student loans.  It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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