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Shortage Region ID234

Shortage Location
Canyon, Elmore and Owyhee County, Idaho
Location Center
Caldwell, ID (83605) or Mountain Home, ID (83647)
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 II Shortage: Private Practice – Rural Area Food Animal Medicine
Must serve
Beef Cattle
VSGP Status
Carry Over
Nominator Name
Scott Leibsle
Nominator Title
State Veterinarian
Nominator Org
Idaho State Dept Agriculture
Nominator Phone
Importance/Objectives of Veterinarian

This 3-county area (11,402 sq miles) is home to 490,000 total cattle (approx. 400,000 beef) (NASS/ISDA 2022). The recent expansion of large scale dairies in western Idaho has drawn nearly all area large animal vets to become solely dedicated to dairy. As a result, all manner of beef operations are struggling to find veterinary care without having to trailer livestock long distances or go out-of-state. There is only one large animal practice in each of Elmore & Owyhee Counties that offers care for production animals. Canyon county has a large number of production animal practices, but most are dedicated to dairy. Vacancies created by recent retirements have yet to be replaced in the Canyon county practices and 5 of the still-active production vets in Canyon are over the age of 60. In the last year, one of the mixed animal clinics in the area has stopped accepting new clients. Producers in the area range from large beef feedlots with multiple thousand head to registered beef herds of a few hundred head to a few cattle on a couple acres...of which all badly need veterinary support. As this area is predominantly an agriculture based economy, it is vitally important that veterinary services remain readily available to both large and small beef producers. This nomination is strictly for a beef practitioner that spends the required 12 hours (on average) per week with beef cattle. There will be a separate nomination in western Idaho for a dairy practitioner.

Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services

Due to the size of this practice area - an applicant may qualify for this award if their practice is based out of or near any of the 'approximate location centers' in the shortage territory. This area requires more direct access to a large animal practitioner. On the food animal side, the practitioner would need to be proficient in:

Routine Beef (cow/calf and feedlot) Herd Health and veterinary medical/surgical services.
The activities of a veterinarian in this area would include but not be limited to consultation with producers on basic management techniques, animal handling and herd health work including pregnancy testing, bull soundness examinations, brucellosis vaccination, setting up vaccination protocols, and emergency treatment of individual animals (sickness, dystocia, etc.)
While an important aspect of the veterinarian's life is built around one's day-to-day practice, it is equally important to be involved in the community. During the "business" part of the day, a rural mixed animal practitioner can be found providing a variety of veterinary services expected with a rural lifestyle.

Historical Efforts of Recruiting/Retaining a Veterinarian

Advertisements in professional magazines such as JAVMA and Bovine Practitioner
• Advertisements in State VMA newsletter and website
• Postings on job boards at veterinary meetings & veterinary colleges
• Networking within veterinary community, allied (pharmaceutical) and animal industry personnel
• Contacting veterinary colleges
• Offering externships to veterinary students

Consequences of Not Securing/Retaining a Veterinarian

Idaho’s agriculture industry is estimated to generate $20 billion annually. For a state with a population of only 1.8 million people, agriculture is both directly and indirectly the economic backbone for the majority of Idaho citizens and businesses and especially integral to the local economies, comprising 17% of total economic output and 12.5% GDP. Idaho ranks as the #3 dairy state in the nation (NASS 2021) for cheese and milk production, as well as number of dairy cattle. For overall cattle numbers, Idaho ranks 11 (NASS 2021). Due to the state’s infrastructure, that includes food animal veterinarians, Idaho enjoys a strong export market for dairy products ($474 million) and beef products ($191 million). Food animal veterinarians are critical to maintain Idaho’s safe and wholesome food supply. Many communities in this region, however, are being forced to make due with self-treating their production animals or trailering them long distances to get the care they need, but then may be turned away by practices that have a caseload that is already to big to manage. Their efforts with the livestock industry are integral in preventing disease and early detection in the event of a disease outbreak for areas that include the extensive grazing lands utilized within this shortage area. An example would be Idaho's annual Trich surveillance program. Proper management of these programs allow our trading partners states to maintain the confidence that Idaho cattle continue to be disease free. Food animal veterinarians are a trusted resource in rural communities throughout the state. They also play an important role in educating youth to develop the next generation of livestock producers and animal health professionals. Without the cooperation of federally accredited and state certified food animal veterinarians, state and federal regulatory agencies could not maintain a safe and wholesome food supply for the public and for our domestic and international trading partners.

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