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Shortage Region FD232

Shortage Location
Location Center
There are 5 positions within the state that would be eligible for this award located in Burley, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, and Wendell, ID.
VMLRP Status
(Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program)
Priority of shortage
Fiscal year
Percent FTE
(Full Time Equivalent, based on a 40hr work week.)
Type of Shortage
(Veterinary Practice Area / Discipline / Specialty)
Type III Shortage: Public Practice
VSGP Status

USDA Food Safety Inspection Service

Position Title
Public Health Veterinarian/Veterinary Medical Officer
Disciplinary area
Food Safety,
Public Health
Carry Over
Nominator Name
Dr. Rosemary B. Sifford
Nominator Title
Deputy Administrator Veterinary Services- Chief Veterinary Officer
Nominator Org
Nominator Email
Nominator Phone
Importance/Objectives of Veterinarian

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) inspection program personnel are required to examine and inspect all livestock and poultry to determine whether the animals are fit for slaughter for human food in accordance with 21 U.S.C. 601 and 21 U.S.C. 451. Veterinarians play a critical role in this by evaluating animals and carcasses for signs of disease that might render these ineligible for human consumption or result in a public health concern. Veterinarians perform and oversee inspection and sampling tasks that prevent foodborne illness. Veterinarians lead teams of inspectors that ensure regulatory requirements are met.

These positions have been particularly hard to fill and retain due to the remoteness of the position, the geographic dispersion of work, the cost of living, and the entry salary (GS-12). These conditions adversely impact retention and the corresponding higher than normal turnover rate further impedes work-life balance and flexibilities of remaining employees which can lead to burn out and additional turnover.

Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services

Planning, organizing, coordinating and adapting the full range of meat and poultry inspection operations in slaughter and/or processing establishments; Ensuring establishments meet requirements of the Pathogen Reduction and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations; Overseeing other consumer protection, non-food safety concerns such as proper labeling and packaging; Serving as team leader who works with and supervises other public health professionals to ensure establishments under our jurisdiction comply with sanitation standards and properly implement systems that control hazards from entering the food supply; Enforcing Federal meat and poultry inspection procedures prior to slaughter and throughout the entire establishment, including humane handling, ante-mortem inspection, post-mortem inspection, processing operations, veterinary dispositions, and transportation and distribution of meat, poultry, and egg products to markets and retail stores; Consulting with union officials and plant management, and discussing with subordinates new or revised regulations, policies and procedures; Maintaining meaningful labor-management relationships with subordinates by representing and expressing management's viewpoints to daily communications. Collaborating with state, local, and federal agencies during recalls and outbreaks from foodborne illness. Veterinarians may need to travel to cover multiple locations across the state.

Historical Efforts of Recruiting/Retaining a Veterinarian

FSIS has a need that we can't address despite the efforts outlined below:
- $5,000 Recruitment Incentive annually for 4 years
- Creditable Service for Annual Leave Accrual
- Direct Hire Authority
- Schedule A Authority to Hire VMOs on Intermittent Schedules
- Travel and Transportation to First Post of Duty
- Relationship with Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with Minority Service Institutions and Affinity Groups
- Adel A. Malak Scholarship program
- FSIS Student Loan Repayment Program for current employees
- FSIS PHV Group Retention Incentive for current in-plant veterinarians with at least 5 years of service as in-plant VMO

Consequences of Not Securing/Retaining a Veterinarian

Ensuring the safety, security and defense of the nation's food supply is one of the most important responsibilities within the Federal Government. Without the veterinarians employed by FSIS, we would be unable to safeguard public health throughout the nation and beyond. Most FSIS veterinarians work in meat and poultry establishments that are under Federal inspection. A shortage or absence of FSIS veterinarians impedes the ability to ensure the establishments are complying with the regulatory mandates and enforce federal meat and poultry inspectionrequirements. This could lead to zoonotic diseases, increased foodborne illnesses, and entry of undetected foreign animal diseases into the country. This impact would be felt nationally and internationally.

The PHV position, primarily at establishments that slaughter meat and poultry, is one of the hardest to fill and retain for a variety of reasons, including:
Difficult working environment – The conditions on the kill floor are unpleasant and the work is arduous. The physical requirements are stringent given the repetitive motions and heavy lifting that is often required.
Greater demands on employees – Increasing scientific demands are placed on the workforce at an increasingly rapid pace. The FSIS food safety mission continues to grow in importance.
Unique skills in short supply – Veterinarians, critical to the defense against the possibility of a global pandemic are in great demand and have many occupational choices from which to choose.
Disparity of salaries – Veterinarians in the private sector who work in private practice or animal clinics can demand greater salaries than those who work in the Federal government.
Demographics – Over half of the workforce in mission-critical occupations will be eligible to retire within the next five years.

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