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Veterinary bill introduced

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is supporting legislation that would create a competitive grant program to improve access to veterinary services, which could be critical with increased monitoring demands related to animal-borne illnesses.

Cochran is an original co-sponsor of the Veterinary Services Investment Act (S.1709), which was introduced by senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). The bill would establish a grant program to promote efforts to develop, implement and sustain veterinary services. The bill has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee on which Cochran serves.

“Veterinary care, not unlike medical care for people, is becoming increasingly specialized. This trend means there are fewer veterinarians available for the basic tasks of handling large animals or overseeing animal disease surveillance. The result is that it is often more difficult for rural producers to access veterinary care, and it can have implications on livestock production,” Cochran said. “This legislation is an attempt to provide incentives for veterinary schools and their students to address these shortcomings.”

As a facility accredited by the American Veterinary Association, the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine would be eligible to participate in this grant program, as would veterinary medical associations, state agriculture experiment stations and other similar organizations.

Grants would be awarded on a competitive basis for programs designed to relieve veterinary shortage situations by promoting the recruitment, placement and retention of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. The grants could also be used to support private veterinary practices engaged in public health activities or to support the practices of veterinarians participating in the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment program. The grants would be issued on a 75-25 cost-share basis.

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