Demand for rural veterinarians is projected to increase 12-13% over the next decade, but 4 of every 100 jobs will go unfilled, a new study says. The study, commissioned by a coalition of veterinary organizations and conducted by Kansas State University (KSU), projects a major shortfall in practitioners by 2016, the Associated Press reports.

"It's a national trend," says Ralph Richardson, dean of KSU's College of Vet Medicine. "I've tracked the job opportunities for veterinary graduates and it's fairly consistent. It's clearly an increasing problem."

The study suggests improved recruiting strategies emphasizing food animal careers, loan forgiveness and other incentives, and improving the image of rural veterinarians as the most promising ways to attract students, AP reports.

Results of the KSU study mirror those found in an exclusive BEEF magazine reader survey conducted in mid May. The two-part survey -- one for producers and the other for food-animal vets -- found respondents in both demographic groups expressing significant concerns about the availability of veterinary services in their communities.

Among producer respondents, 30.5% said they were concerned in the long run about a shortfall in the availability of large-animal veterinary services in their community, and 13.9% said there already was a shortage.

Among responding practitioners, 40.5% said they were concerned about a future shortfall in the availability of large-animal vet services in their community, and 31% reported there already being a shortage.

The survey results, to be posted in the July issue of BEEF magazine, concerned producer and practitioner attitudes about the status of veterinary practices and services in the U.S. beef industry.
-- Joe Roybal