A state lawmaker hopes to address a shortage of veterinarians who treat food animals. Many rural areas are having a hard time finding veterinarians who are willing to treat livestock, and State Representative J.A. "Doc" Hines (R-Oxford) says that's putting a major state resource at risk.
Hines is proposing legislation that provides a loan forgiveness of up to $50,000 for Wisconsin vet students who spend at least six years treating food animals in the state after they graduate. Hines says about 75 percent of their time would have be focused on livestock.
The retired veterinarian says the profession is facing a shortage because many vets choose to treat companion animals instead, which can be a much more lucrative practice. That's because owners typically place a much higher value on keeping a family pet alive and there are limits to how much livestock owners are willing to spend.
The legislation is currently being considered by an Assembly committee. State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.