Shortage Of Rural Veterinarians Affecting Food Inspection System

VetsA shortage of veterinarians who treat farm animals or work as government inspectors could threaten the nation’s food system.

The biggest shortage is in the Farm Belt, the rural areas in the Midwest that produce a lot of the nation’s meat.

An increasing number of veterinarians are choosing to live in cities and treat pets instead of living in rural areas and working with farm animals.

Gregory Hammer, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association said, “We’re in a crisis situation. We don’t have enough rural veterinarians to be a first line of defense against animal diseases.”

The federal government is offering bonuses and covering moving expenses to lure more vets to work in food safety.

Michael Gilsdorf, head of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, said, “There are so many vacancies that you’ve got one veterinarian doing the job of three.”

Marguerite Pappaioanou, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, stated that about 900 of 1,200 veterinarian positions in the Department of Agriculture’s food inspection service are filled.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of vets needed will grow by 22,000 by 2016 which will make it one of the fastest-growing professions.

About 2,500 people graduate from the nation’s 28 veterinarian schools each year. This number hasn’t changed in 30 years.

Source: USA Today

4 Responses to “Shortage Of Rural Veterinarians Affecting Food Inspection System”

  1. G in INdiana says:

    What HAS changed is the gender distribution of vets. Now almost 80% of the vet students and those graduating are female. I know several farm vets and about half are female. Most of the males are older than the female vets by a decade or more.
    Maybe working with large animals is not what the vets want to do now. Maybe, as my vets do, they would like a variety of animal species to work with and not just the ones headed for slaughter. Maybe the places the vets would have to live are not what they envision as a place to raise a family. Maybe, like my small town, there isn’t enough to do outside of work to warrant being there.

  2. The Lioness says:

    That’s a sad situation.

    ~The Lioness

  3. Sharon says:

    Vet schools have not kept up. They are too much in the pocket of pet food manufacturers and that group of people is not interested in large animal vertrinary medicine. There is no money in it for them.

  4. e wem says:

    Many go into veterinary school today because they are animal lovers. It would be hard to do inspections, especially for animals headed to market

    The article said the government needs vets to work in food safety. That is another way of saying - inspection at the slaughterhouse.

    Perhaps they need a new category of vet tech who can handle the inspections the same way police officers test DUIs. Glazed eyes, drooling, stumbling, sores, and tumors could be excluded outright, even if the animals was technically ’safe to eat’. Of course the food industry would not like to take those losses when a full vet could pass a creature based upon his credentials, while a vet tech would have to fail the same animal because of his lack of expertise.

    Farm vet work has the same problems with some farms being humane and others being ruthless but legal. Therein lies the problem. I could not be a vet at a factory chicken operation. I would turn PETA and start rescuing the poor animals


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