Veterinary students will soon have a financial incentive to serve down on the farm, rather than treat pets.

Half a million dollars has been set aside in the state budget to lure six vet students into a large animal practice, an appropriation to get the Large Animal Veterinary Student Loan Program off the ground.

Acting State Veterinarian, Dr. Taylor Woods, hopes this is the first of many years of funding the program. Woods estimates it would take at least ten years to ease a critical shortage of veterinarians to serve Missouri’s farms as well as its livestock markets. State law requires a veterinarian be present at each livestock market. Missouri has more livestock markets than any other state. Woods says some are staffed by elderly vets who have come out of retirement to help out.

Under the program, loans will be forgiven students who serve in areas of need. Taylor says a special committee has been reviewing the needs in Missouri and has settled on a flexible definition so that students will have options when they graduate.

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