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Veterinarians in PWC who serve “food animals” can get USDA help in repaying vet school loans

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) says veterinarians who will serve in Prince William, Loudoun and Fauquier counties and some other parts of Virginia that have moderate to critical shortages of “food animal veterinarians” may be eligible for help with repaying vet school expenses.

As in many states, farmers in these areas lack adequate access to veterinary services for food supply animals such as beef cattle and sheep.

Virginia has shortages in four areas:  a Critical shortage in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott and Wise counties. Moderate shortages are in Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren counties;  Bland, Smyth and Tazewell counties and Alleghany, Bath and Highland counties.

As a condition of the award, the veterinarian must serve beef cattle and small ruminant producers - sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and other camelids. He or she may also serve dairy cattle, swine and poultry. Awardees filling Type 2 shortage areas must dedicate at least 30 percent of their time or 12 hours per week to provision of food animal veterinary services. Recipients are required to commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage area.

Loan repayment benefits up to $25,000 per year for three years are limited to payments of the principal and interest on government and commercial loans received for attendance at an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or the equivalent.

Repayments made by the loan repayment program are taxable income. Also included in the award is a federal tax payment equal to 39 percent of the loan payment to offset the increase in income tax liability.

The deadline for applications is June 22, 2015. More information is available at http://nifa.usda.gov/program/veterinary-medicine-loan-repayment-program.

Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian, said, “Veterinarians are critical to America’s food safety and food security, and to the health and well-being of both animals and humans. Many farmers face a critical shortage of veterinarians, but many veterinarians who have accumulated high student debt amounts choose to work in locations that offer higher pay than rural America.”

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