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Shortage Region CA248

State/Territory
California
Shortage Location - Must Serve
Los Angeles and Ventura Counties
Shortage Location - May Serve
Location Center
Agua Dulce, CA
VSGP Status
Open
VMLRP Status
(Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program)
Open
Priority of shortage
High
Fiscal year
Percent FTE
(Full Time Equivalent, based on a 40hr work week.)
70
Type of Shortage
(Veterinary Practice Area / Discipline / Specialty)
Type II Shortage: Private Practice – Rural Area Food Animal Medicine
Must serve
Beef Cattle
Small Ruminant
Other Must Serve
May serve
Swine
Poultry
Other May Serve
Employer
Position Title
Other disciplinary area
Carry Over
Nominator Name
Dr. Annette Jones
Nominator Title
Division Director
Nominator Org
California Dept of Food and Agriculture
Nominator Email
Nominator Phone
916-900-5000
Importance/Objectives of Veterinarian
The service location is from Ojai in the northwest to Camarillo in the southwest and includes the historic agricultural hubs of Leona Valley and the Antelope Valley, down to the northern San Fernando Valley. The center of the area is Agua Dulce, from which a veterinarian would have good access to serve all corners of the shortage area. Addressing the large animal veterinary shortage in the agricultural subregions of Ventura and north Los Angeles Counties is essential to maintaining a safe and secure food supply in California. The veterinarian who will fill this shortage area will provide services to the small flocks and herds, playing a vital role in antimicrobial stewardship by establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) and advising on disease prevention as well as administering therapeutic interventions. This area would fit a predominantly large animal practitioner, with some small animal medicine to allow them to balance the time required to drive between large animal facilities with supplemental clinical income from small animal or equine services. There is a backlog of requests for border crossing permits for animals moving in and out of the state, as well as internationally through Mexico, due to the lack of food animal veterinarian capacity. The veterinarian would work to resolve this border crossing permit services shortage, along with being involved in a routine manner with ranches in the area, both for routine herd health and emergencies.
Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services
This often-forgotten corner of California agriculture desperately needs veterinary services and husbandry advice for its remaining producers. The veterinarian would primarily serve beef cattle and small ruminants, performing typical duties of a food animal practitioner including but not limited to: pregnancy diagnosis, obstetrical difficulties, foreign animal disease surveillance, semen evaluation, trichomoniasis testing, and overall herd health practices (vaccination, castration, and regulatory testing requirements). There is a critical need for on-farm breeding soundness exams and pregnancy checks; currently, producers in Agua Dulce and the larger Leona Valley will haul over 90 minutes to get their bulls tested. These producers rely on laypeople to assist with their heifers and cows, as it is not possible to transport their whole herd for annual exams and confirm pregnancy status. Establishing a VCPR through routine herd visits is critical, as most small producers in the area rely on infrequent consults with small animal and equine vets. Many ranchers have no one to prescribe antibiotics and other prescription medications for their animals. Activities will include emergency services, development of treatment and vaccination protocols, and biosecurity assessment. The clinician may provide outreach regarding on-farm management strategies can be implemented to help maintain a safe food supply and reduce the risk of agricultural product contamination from livestock-associated pathogens.
Historical Efforts of Recruiting/Retaining a Veterinarian
The large animal veterinarians that producers previously relied upon have retired from this area. Local agricultural representatives worked with local equine veterinarians to take over food animal services, but none were able to dedicate the consistent time needed, in addition to their equine clients, despite the definite need from reliable and engaged clientele. Recently, a large animal veterinarian has returned home to set up practice on the outskirts of this area and is looking to recruit another veterinarian with cattle expertise to serve this area, both of whose longevity could be supported strongly through VMLRP.
Consequences of Not Securing/Retaining a Veterinarian
Maintaining adequate animal health vigilance in this area is important to the entire state. There are continued veterinary service needs here, not only to maintain the continuity of veterinary care as current vets retire and to protect food safety, but also to prevent the spread of emerging diseases. Very close to the urban center of Los Angeles lies the Lancaster Livestock Auction and the Port of Los Angeles. Foreign animal disease spread in and around the port is a serious, potential risk. Vigilant watch over herds in the area is critical to maintaining free trade in the State. Previous FAD incidents have included LA county, so a veterinary connection with area producers is crucial. The area has youth agriculture with a thriving hog, cattle, and lamb show circuit. With FAD risks, such as African Swine Fever, interstate movement of hogs and guidance from a veterinarian is essential to any potential disease response. Without adequate and accessible veterinary care, farmers who are not trained in FAD recognition and biosecurity practices may inadvertently create disease reservoirs or allow for diseases to spread throughout the county, state, or region. The situation in this area is dire; as of 2022, the last full-time food animal veterinarian has stopped regular services to this area of Southern California. We desperately need a new generation of food animal veterinarians to take root in this area to provide consistent health services to this community. Historical knowledge and mentorship remain available through recently retired veterinarians, where awareness of local needs and producer trust is critical. This is invaluable as many equine practices look to expand into livestock medicine and may be available for only a short time. This area needs veterinary services as soon as possible, to build community ties and encourage a smooth transition. Without appropriate veterinary medical support, animal welfare, food safety, and agricultural production within the region are at risk and herds are vulnerable to disease.
Community Aspects
Nestled between the mountains and an ocean paradise, the historic county of Ventura sits right next to Los Angeles. Art, history, and culture thrive at the home of Ventura's "Mission by the Sea" and The City of Angels. With an average temperature of 75°F year-round, outdoor activities are abundant for families and adventure seekers alike. From whale watching near the Channel Islands, enjoying a leisurely meal in Ojai, traveling up the coast to Santa Barbara, or wine tasting along the Ventura County Wine Trail—the opportunities are endless. Los Angeles County is vast, from the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica to the lights and glamor of Hollywood and Beverly Hill's Rodeo Drive, and the wide open mountain ranges in the Angeles National Forest. Los Angeles and Ventura Counties have something for everyone. A short drive to all California has to offer—Los Angeles, Orange County/Disneyland, San Diego—Ventura and Los Angeles are the perfect playground to enjoy the California sun.

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