The U.S. House this month passed a bill that would help increase the number of veterinarians working in livestock and food animal practices and in key public health fields. The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Senate to follow suit.
“Many recent studies have shown dramatic shortfalls of veterinarians in food animal practice in rural areas and in key public health practice areas, including food systems, veterinary medicine and at several federal government agencies protecting the nation’s food supply and keeping a watchful eye out for bioterrorism and foreign animal diseases,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
“The national pool of 2,500 new veterinarian graduates a year is not enough to meet the demand.”
AFBF applauded the House’s passage of H.R. 525, the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Amendments Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).
The bill would amend the Public Health Service Act and add veterinary public health as one of the professional groups eligible for grants to train the public health veterinarian workforce. The legislation also makes veterinarians studying public health eligible for student loan repayment.
Stallman said the shortage of large animal veterinarians needs to be addressed to ensure the health and welfare of animals and to ensure a safe food supply.
“From dairies in Maine to sheep flocks in Montana, fewer veterinarians are available to help farmers and ranchers care for their animals in both routine and emergency situations,” Stallman said. “National efforts such as this legislation are needed to address these critical deficits.”
Photo by Bryan Rinnert