A newly introduced bill backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation would help bring more veterinarians to rural areas.

“Timely veterinary care is key to maintaining the health of our nation’s poultry flocks and dairy and livestock herds. However, a shortage of animal care professionals in many rural areas is putting farm animals at risk, jeopardizing the farms and ranches that care for them, and impacting the stability of our food supply,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to the sponsors of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (H.R. 2447), Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis,), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.).

Administered by USDA, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program may repay part of student loan debt each year in exchange for up to three years of service in a designated veterinary shortage area. The new legislation would expand the number of awards to qualifying veterinarians by exempting the loan amount from the 37% federal withholding tax.