Tackling the U.S. Meals Animal Veterinarian Scarcity: NIFA’s Veterinary Medication Mortgage Reimbursement Program

Friday, May 28, 2021

Food veterinarians are critical to maintaining healthy, safe, and secure food supplies. There is a critical shortage of food veterinarians today in both private and public practice, particularly in rural U.S. and island communities.

Food animal producers rely on veterinarians with expertise in veterinary medicine and surgery, as well as training in herd health, diagnostic medicine, epidemiology, public health and food safety.
One reason for this deficiency is the high cost of professional veterinary training. Veterinary college graduates, on average, have student loan debt greater than $ 150,000. The high costs of veterinary training lead many graduates to choose lucrative career paths such as small animal medicine.

The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) provides approximately $ 7.6 million annually to help eligible veterinarians pay off a significant portion of debt that they received in exchange for their veterinary degree for their services in certain situations with high veterinary deficiency. The VMLRP pays up to $ 25,000 annually for qualified training loans from eligible veterinarians who agree to work in a NIFA-designated veterinarian shortage situation for three years. In the 2020 financial year, NIFA received 150 applications and distributed 76 awards.

On April 29, 2021, NIFA published the VMLRP Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2020, which includes a detailed overview of the program, applicant and award winner statistics, areas of shortage awarded and a statement on the effects of COVID-19. Learn more about VMLRP. The next application period starts in February 2022 and ends on April 15, 2022. You can also send questions about this program to VMLRP@usda.gov.

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