Governor Blunt has announced that he will propose the state offer half a million dollars in scholarships for Missouri students to become livestock veterinarians.

Blunt earlier this year signed the Large Animal Veterinary Student Loan Program, which the legislature approved this year in response to a shortage of veterinarians for farm animals. Blunt says the $500,000 to fund the program will be a top priority of his budget for next year.

The program actually offers loans to students who enroll at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia. They act as scholarships, though, because if the student works in underserved areas of the state, loan principal and interest will be forgiven. Veterinary school is expensive. The half a million dollars will fund only six students for the full four-year course which can total more than $143,000 over those four years. A student can be eligible for up to $20,000 a year for a maximum of $80,000.

Some parts of rural Missouri do not have veterinarians and agriculture officials believe it could become a critical problem. A special advisory panel appointed by the State Agriculture Director will make recommendations regarding the administration of the program.

The Large Animal Veterinary Student Loan Program was created by SB 320 .