Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Shortage Region ID235

Shortage Location
Canyon, Payette and Gem County, Idaho
Location Center
Caldwell, ID (83605)
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
Dairy 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 (1,581 sq miles) is home to 230,000 total cattle with the vast majority of those being dairy and dairy replacements (NASS/ISDA 2022). The dairies in western Idaho have continued to grow in size (avg. 1,800 milking cows per dairy) and the supply of vets to support those dairies cannot keep up. While there are several large dairies (10,000+ head) in this area, there are still a significant number of small dairies (<500 head) that continually struggle to find veterinary support. One of the primary large animal clinics in this area has had continuous openings for 1-2 associates for 10+ years….and have never filled/retained both positions at once. In the last year, a mixed animal clinic in the area has been forced to stop accepting new clients. Vacancies created by recent retirements at clinics in Caldwell and Payette have yet to be replaced and 5 of the current resident vets are over the age of 60. As this area is predominantly an agriculture based economy, it is vitally important that veterinary services (routine and emergency) remain readily available to all types of livestock producers. This nomination is strictly for a dairy practitioner that spends the required 16 hours (on average) per week with dairy cattle. There will be a separate nomination in western Idaho for a beef practitioner.

Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services

This area requires better access to dairy practitioners to keep up with the growth of the dairies. The practitioner must be proficient in:
Routine Dairy Herd Health and veterinary medical/surgical services & Cattle nutrition

Specifically, 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 dairy practitioner can be found providing a variety of different veterinary services to clients, depending upon the size and type of dairy. This region of the state is also home to an extensive FFA program in the local high schools, one of which has 9 teachers dedicated strictly to agriculture. 4H programs and University Ag Extension offices are also present and have a strong interaction with local veterinarians and ag communities.

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. Idaho is a mandatory brucellosis vaccination state and many dairy producers in this region have difficulty scheduling a vet to perform the state mandated vaccinations, which presents a problem for compliance as well as disease prevention, if calves fail to be vaccinated. Recruiting and retaining dairy vets in this region is critical for our 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. 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.

Website Survey CTA Image Desktop

Your feedback is important to us.