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Shortage Region WV242

West Virginia
Shortage Location - Must Serve
Ritchie, Wirt, Calhoun, Gilmer counties (WV counties are relatively small in square miles)
Shortage Location - May Serve
Tyler, Pleasants, Jackson, Roane, Clay, Lewis, Doddridge counties, WV
Location Center
Harrisville, WV, 26362 (Ritchie County)
VSGP Status
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
Beef Cattle
Other Must Serve
May serve
Small Ruminant
Other May Serve
farmed deer, camelids, honeybees
Position Title
Other disciplinary area
Carry Over
Nominator Name
Ambria N. Mays
Nominator Title
Staff Veterinarian
Nominator Org
West Virginia Department of Agriculture
Nominator Email
Nominator Phone
Importance/Objectives of Veterinarian

Food supply veterinarians are vital to the health and welfare of production animals as well as to the safety and wholesomeness of their processed products. As our global population increases, the worldwide demand for food from animals is also expected to increase 50% by the year 2022. This nomination provides coverage opportunity for four "must service "contiguous counties comprising 1,310 square miles and seven "may service" surrounding counties another 2,406 square miles. These counties account for over 15.3% of West Virginia's cattle production, as well as contain five of eight of the state's livestock markets. USDA-NASS 2023 Survey depicts 57,400 head cattle population for these counties out of the total 375,000 head cattle recorded statewide in 2022. In addition to beef cattle, the area has dairy cattle, sheep, goat, pedigree swine, farmed deer, apiaries, and camelid populations. A food animal veterinarian would also directly impact producer's preventive health and bio-security measures to help prevent and provide early recognition of disease such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), African swine fever (ASF) classical swine fever (CSF), and other foreign animal diseases that would cause devastation to farms, regional production, and international trade - if they were to occur in the United States.

Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services

This nomination would support an individual willing to practice within the area and provide food animal veterinary services to a rural area. The individual could establish a new practice in any of the eleven counties, or become employed by any of the existing practices needing associate large animal veterinarians. The individual could provide comprehensive services for all species. The activities of a dedicated mixed animal practitioner in this area would greatly assist the preservation and expansion of a vibrant and varied food animal industry in an area of West Virginia in need of food animal veterinary practitioners, including for emergency obstetrics, reproduction work, and preventive herd health plans. State Veterinarian expectations include: supporting FFA and 4H youth events at numerous agricultural fairs; participation for WV working groups Theileria, SIV, One Health; emergency preparedness planning and drilling for foreign animal disease response actions; providing veterinary services for livestock markets that employ practitioners for pregnancy evaluations, vaccinations, health certificate issuances, and applying treatment regimens; providing Category II Accreditation program disease testing work for Brucellosis and Tuberculosis herd testing; herd health program opportunities for WV deer farms and Beef Quality Assurance herds; and emergency activation for WV FAD event support.

Historical Efforts of Recruiting/Retaining a Veterinarian

Efforts thus far involve hosting veterinary externships for students attending out-of-state veterinary colleges. The intent of this nomination is focused primarily on providing the opportunity for a graduate veterinarian to locate to the area and establish themself, in order to provide vital food animal veterinary services, outreach and education, and community involvement. The elected Commissioner of Agriculture, members of State Fair of West Virginia livestock committee, and multiple veterinary practice owners have communicated in 2023 to the State Veterinarian regarding need for recruitment of food animal veterinarians to the region due to retirements and increasing scarcity of food animal veterinary practitioners.

Consequences of Not Securing/Retaining a Veterinarian

The risk of lack of food animal veterinarians will have negative impact on our state and nation's animal disease, food supply, and public health preparedness. These eleven geographically small WV counties area would greatly benefit into the future for multiple aspects as dedicated food animal veterinarian availability is critical to foreign and endemic animal disease surveillance. Food supply veterinarians serve a key role in public health preparedness, as 75% of emerging human diseases are of animal origin. Veterinarians often serve on small community local public health boards and commissions. The lack of food supply veterinarian availability directly impacts animal welfare, as many producers are reduced to practicing on their own animals beyond the scope of their ability, often with inhumane results and subsequent environmental impact through improper disposal of deceased livestock. The use of antimicrobials without veterinary oversight increases the rate of residue violations in the food supply. The benefits of a food animal veterinarian would forestall the ongoing erosion of critical food supply veterinary services in West Virginia.

Community Aspects

West Virginia offers some of the most breathtaking views and environments in the country. Living in West Virginia carries benefits such as low taxes and the state boasts extremely low home prices plus a low cost of living. Outdoor recreation cannot be beaten. Multiple national and state parks, forests and campgrounds are available. There are many opportunities for freshwater fishing, including fly-fishing for trout. The state is also famous for its hunting and its biodiversity of both animal and plant life. Nature lovers will never run out of new places to explore and discover. West Virginia is right in the heart of the Appalachian Trail, making it one of the best places for people who love to hike and camp. White-water rafting opportunities abound, as well as numerous rivers and lakes for canoeing, kayaking, and pleasure boating. There are also opportunities for rock-climbing and spelunking. You will always have the presence of the mountains in the background across the state. West Virginia is one of the best places to be on the planet when the autumn season arrives and fall colors become spectacular. You will get to experience all the seasons here each year without fail. West Virginians love the outdoors and there is a rich immigration history which influences unique and interesting perspectives on the arts, music, cuisine, and overall "Mountain State" culture that you will enjoy discovering.

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