The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says veterinary shortages are threatening animal health, public health and the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. The association Wednesday urged Congress to help address the issue by passing legislation called the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.
Data from the Department of Agriculture shows that 187 regions in the United States currently suffer from shortages of livestock and public health veterinarians.
Increasing veterinary student debt, which reached $143,700 on average for 2016 graduates of veterinary colleges, is partly to blame for the shortages, according to the association. The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program helps by offering loan forgiveness to veterinarians who commit to serving at least three years in underserved areas.
However, AVMA says the program does not receive enough funding to meet demand, in part because each award is subject to an expensive income tax withholding. The legislation supported by AVMA would eliminate the tax funding to support more communities in need of veterinarians, all within the current funding level provided by Congress.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.