USDA's will address rural veterinarian shortages by repaying student loans of qualified vets in return for serving in vet-deficient areas.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and will begin accepting applications from prospective veterinarians April 30. For a three-year commitment in a designated veterinary shortage area, NIFA may repay up to $25,000/year of student loan debt.

Major studies show a leading cause of the growing shortage of food supply veterinarians is the heavy cost of training, which can average $130,000 to $140,000. Congress established VMLRP (http://www.nifa.usda.gov/nea/animals/in_focus/an_health_if_vmlrp.html) as a way to remedy this growing need.