A 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