March 16, 2005

Senate Approves Plan To Assist Rural Veterinarian Care

Washington, DC - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig announced the Senate has approved a plan to assist with the costs of veterinarian care in rural areas. The National Veterinary Medical Services Act, passed by the Senate on Monday night, authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to assist veterinarians in repaying their educational loans if they agree to serve in areas where the Secretary has determined a shortage of qualified veterinarians exists. Idaho officials asked both Crapo and Craig to support the bill, citing difficulty in finding qualified veterinarian care for some areas of rural Idaho. Both senators cosponsored the measure. USDA originally asked for the program to implement it in emergency situations. â??The safety of both rural residents and their animals is improved under this program,â?? noted Senator Crapo. â??With the threat from bioterrorism and Canadaâ??s experience with BSE, or â??mad cowâ?? disease, it is prudent to assist agricultural communities that otherwise may not have the funding to attract and keep well-trained veterinarian medical care.â?? "As a predominantly rural state, Idaho's ranchers and animal owners desperately need the services that veterinarians provide," Senator Craig said. "This legislation delivers much-needed incentives to place veterinarians in underserved areas both rural and urban. Additionally, threats to animal health, including 'mad cow' and foot-and-mouth diseases, and the west nile virus, cannot be ignored. Veterinarians dutifully act as 'first responders' in these situations and it is imperative that these experts are available. This shortage must be addressed now, and this bill will provide necessary benefits to veterinarians and the communities." # # #