American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) President Dr. John de Jong released the following statement in response to today's introduction of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). This legislation is a companion bill to the Senate bill (S.1163) and would eliminate a withholding tax to maximize funding for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which provides loan assistance to place food animal and public health veterinarians in U.S. Department of Agriculture-designated veterinary shortage areas. This bill will help close veterinary access gaps in rural communities.
Too many rural communities today don't have access to adequate veterinary care, leaving livestock at risk for dangerous diseases that could impact agricultural communities and threaten public health. Unfortunately, the reality is that food animal veterinary careers typically pay less than small animal careers, and high levels of student debt can make it financially difficult for veterinarians to follow these career paths.
The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program is extremely effective in addressing this challenge because it provides veterinarians with loan repayment assistance so they don't have to choose between paying off their loans and pursuing food animal or public health careers. These efforts are critical to our farming and ranching communities, and we're grateful to the members of Congress who recognize the importance of supporting and expanding this program.
Thank you to Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) for introducing this bill. We look forward to working with lawmakers to help the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act become law.