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Shortage Region JUTWY241

State/Territory
Utah
Shortage Location - Must Serve
Rich County, UT and Uinta County, WY
Shortage Location - May Serve
Location Center
20 S Main St, Randolph, UT 84064
VSGP Status
Open
VMLRP Status
(Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program)
Open
Priority of shortage
Critical
Fiscal year
Percent FTE
(Full Time Equivalent, based on a 40hr work week.)
30
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
Other May Serve
Horses
Employer
Position Title
Other disciplinary area
Carry Over
Nominator Name
Amanda Price
Nominator Title
Assistant State Veterinarian
Nominator Org
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food
Nominator Email
Nominator Phone
801-386-4189
Importance/Objectives of Veterinarian
Rich County is the northeast corner of Utah, bordered by Wyoming and Idaho. Seventy-five percent of the county's land is used for agriculture, primarily grazing livestock, and livestock products account for the majority of the county's income. There are 42,000 head of cattle and nearly 8,000 sheep and goats in Rich County, making it the second biggest county in Utah for cow-calf production. Uinta County is Wyoming's southwestern most county, total area 2,088 sq. miles, bordering Utah to the west and south. Evanston is the county seat, population 12K, and is just over an hour from the Salt Lake City International Airport. There are approximately 400 ranches raising 39K cattle and 32K sheep in Uinta County. Much of the county is under either federal or state ownership, and common grazing allotments are necessary for many producers. Many of these cattle are in commuter herds that move between Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming for grazing, including into the Wyoming Brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area (DSA). Adequate numbers of food animal veterinarians are vital to this area. A veterinarian in Rich and Uinta counties would serve both the cow-calf and sheep producers and the horses they use for their operations. Food animal veterinarians provide owner education/outreach for infections, contagious, and/or communicable diseases, supported by the constant interaction between livestock and wildlife within our grazing areas. In addition to the work available with beef cattle and sheep, there are opportunities for equine work, with fairly significant obstetrical work in the spring. There is demand for additional veterinary capability in the county, as additional veterinary support is often needed. Additionally, an accredited large animal practitioner in this area will be an intermediary for regulatory officials and producers - communicating and endorsing state and federal animal health regulations, disease programs, animal welfare, and interstate livestock movement.
Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services
Rich and Uinta counties have great opportunities for engagement with cow/calf operations and sheep operations, doing ambulatory work. Potential exists for herd health consultation, production management, nutrition, embryo transfer, and artificial insemination. Operations vary tremendously in size, ranging from 2000 cattle or sheep to backyard livestock enterprises. Spring is busy with obstetrical work, although over time the "calving season" has lengthened, going from mid-January to mid-June. Food animal surgeries include c-sections, urethrotomies/-ostomies, eye enucleations, claw removal, castration, dehorning, abscess treatment, trauma treatment, and lumpectomies. A strong desire exists within the communities for veterinary mentorship regarding livestock management, outreach, and production. Additional mentorship opportunities regular livestock events, including 4-H and FFA. Interaction with state and federal veterinarians occurs regularly due to brucellosis surveillance. Tremendous potential also exists for collaboration with federal and state wildlife officials regarding the livestock - wildlife interface on the large percentage of federal land across the county. Producer outreach in conjunction with extension also occurs on a regular basis. This position could also provide general veterinary services for other livestock, horses, and pets.
Historical Efforts of Recruiting/Retaining a Veterinarian
The economy of Rich and Uinta counties is still largely based on farming and ranching. Many efforts to attract a veterinarian to this area have been unsuccessful because of the remoteness of the counties and the income needed to meet current student loan obligations of new graduates. Because of the low population in these two counties, the number of "home-grown" candidates tends to be small. In mid-2023, Utah implemented a loan repayment program to increase the number of veterinarians serving in rural areas, but there have not been any applications from this area. Wyoming does not currently have a state-funded student loan repayment program. Competing with states with a loan repayment program is challenging, thus Wyoming's need for VMLRP.
Consequences of Not Securing/Retaining a Veterinarian
Utah and Wyoming must address this veterinary shortage to ensure a safe food supply, specifically for beef cattle and small ruminants in Rich and Uinta counties. Wyoming's Brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), lies just to the east of Rich County and just north of Uinta County. Wyoming requires intense brucellosis surveillance for cattle residing within the DSA, and upon change of ownership either within or upon transiting the DSA. In-person veterinary care is needed to mitigate increased risk to public health threats such as emerging diseases and drug residue exposure. Producers need continual veterinary care, advice on preventive medicine, and production management recommendations for their animals. Without access to veterinarians, our producers are unable to test their cattle in a timely manner, resulting in economic loss. Food animal veterinarians are needed for continually increasing regulations regarding veterinary feed directives and antibiotic usage, along with the continued demand for organic, grass-fed beef and niche marketing, difficult with the harsh winters we receive. Increasing interaction between livestock and wildlife due to changing land use continues to present challenges for Utah and Wyoming producers. Food animal veterinarians are ideally poised to offer education and outreach, along with specifically designed herd health plans, to keep our producers economically viable.
Community Aspects
Rich County is nestled into the mountains of Utah, with Bear Lake on the northern end of the county. It is a rural area within a short driving distance of the larger communities of Logan, Utah and Evanston, Wyoming. The area has access to world-class skiing, hiking, and watersports. Attractions to Uinta County include the nearby majestic Wyoming Range, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and close access to Utah ski areas. Excellent hunting exists in Bridger-Teton National Forest, as well as exceptional fly-fishing opportunities in the Green River. Exploring further into Wyoming offers access to majestic Yellowstone National Park, towering Grand Teton National Park, blue ribbon wild trout rivers, national-best elk and antelope hunting, and premier dining and western experience events from Jackson Hole to Cody to Sheridan.

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