The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on an interim final rule that establishes the process for designating veterinarian shortage situations, specifically for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.
The rule was published in the Federal Register on July 9.
Comments received by Sept. 8 will be considered in the final rule.
The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program is authorized by the National Veterinary Medical Service Act and administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
CSREES will designate geographic and practice areas that have a shortage of food supply veterinarians in order to carry out the program goals of strengthening the nation’s animal health infrastructure and supplementing the federal response during animal health emergencies.
CSREES will enter into educational loan repayment agreements with veterinarians who agree to work in shortage situations for a determined period.
The interim rule is based, in part, on the comment period late last year. CSREES received oral and written comments from groups such as the American Veterinary Medical Assn., the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, the American Assn. of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. It also received 27 comments from individuals, most of whom were veterinary students.
In response to stakeholder input, CSREES will award loan repayment agreements of up to $25,000 for the first three or four years. In addition, it will pay up to 39 percent of the total amount of loan repayments made in a calendar year to reimburse program participants for any tax liability.
CSREES said it anticipates soliciting for the veterinarian shortage situations via a Federal Register notice in September after the conclusion of the comment period.
Comments, identified by Docket ID CSREES 20090004, may be submitted at regulations.gov or by e-mail.