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November 21, 2013
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is pleased to announce that a veterinarian has accepted a USDA Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Award. The award is designed to ensure access to food supply veterinary services in communities that need those services by helping repay a portion of the veterinary education loans for someone willing to serve an area lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The awards, made through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) of the USDA, will fill shortage needs in 18 states, including Virginia.

“As in many states, several rural areas in Virginia lack adequate access to veterinary services for food supply animals,” said Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS’ State Veterinarian. “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, and many veterinarians, who have accumulated high student debt amounts, choose to work in locations that offer higher pay than rural America.” The loan award program is designed to give assistance to veterinarians so they can fill these shortages and help improve the health of livestock and ensure a safe food supply.

Virginia has a Type II shortage in the southwest portion of the state in Bland, Smyth and Tazewell Counties. A VMLRP award was offered to, and accepted by, an applicant who competed successfully to fill this specific shortage situation. 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 II shortages 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 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 VMLRP 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. In 2013, the average loan amount was $88, 115, including the loan and tax payments. The average eligible debt for repayment on new awards was $115,793.

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