Wyoming entices large animal vets to consider the state
Cheyenne – Nationally, large animal veterinarian numbers are declining. This, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), poses a risk to livestock producers and puts the United State’s food supply in danger. In an effort to revive the large animal veterinary practice in Wyoming, the state legislature passed the Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program.
The average veterinary school graduate racks up $106,000 in debt, according to the AVMA, and the Wyoming repayment program would ease some of that financial burden. Through the loan repayment program, the Wyoming Livestock Board can pay up to 100 percent of a recipient’s educational expenses as long as the amount doesn’t exceed $30,000 per year. The veterinarian is required to work for a minimum of three years as a “food animal veterinarian” in an approved area and is also responsible for finding a sponsor or sponsors to match 25 percent of the funds approved by the board.
“We’ve got to find a way to bring people in,” Dr. Fred Emerich, a contract veterinarian with the Wyoming Livestock Board says. “I talk to students who want to come back to Wyoming but can’t make it financially work in Wyoming.”
Recipients, approval of money and approved areas are all up to the discretion of the Wyoming Livestock Board. The criteria the board examines for selection of recipients includes the need for food animal veterinary services in an approved area, the amount of food animal veterinary work the applicant will perform, the applicant’s educational expenses and whether the applicant has a commitment for the 25 percent matching funds. They may also give priority to applicants who attended the University of Wyoming or a Wyoming community college.
“We would like to get people into underserved areas of the state to do as much large animal veterinary work as they can,” Emerich says.
The applications are not complete yet but will eventually be available from the Wyoming Livestock Board office in Cheyenne.
The law becomes effective July 1 and a public comment period is open through June 30. Written comments or requests for a public hearing can be submitted to Dr. Fred Emerich, Wyoming Livestock Board, 2020 Carey Ave 4th Floor, Cheyenne, WY 82002, Attn; Rules coordinator. A public hearing will be held if 25 people request one.
Following the public comment period, the board has to approve the program and host a public hearing if it is requested. The Wyoming Attorney General then must give his okay and the Wyoming Livestock Board President and the Governor have to sign it.
“We’ve had lots of people calling and asking about the program,” Emerich says. “We think it’s going to be successful.”
Dr. Fred Emerich is a contract veterinarian with the Wyoming Livestock Board. He can be contacted at 307-777-7515. Liz LeSatz is the Summer 2008 intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.