Congressman Leonard Boswell, Chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry expressed his concerns to Acting Secretary Chuck Connor on USDA's delay in implementing the National Veterinary Medical Service Act, which was signed into law on December 6th, 2003. This Act authorizes the USDA to establish a loan employment program for veterinary graduates who agree to work in areas of the country that are underserved by veterinarians. Joining Boswell in signing the attached letter were Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN), Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Diary, and Poultry, Robin Hayes (R-NC).

"Rural America continues to endure a shortage of qualified veterinarians. Because of this, we are concerned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) has demonstrated little progress in implementing pertinent provisions of the National Veterinary Medical Service Act, which was signed into law on December 6th, 2003."

"A shortage of veterinarians leaves our public health and the health of the animals in vulnerable situations, since veterinarians, specifically large animal veterinarians, are our first line of defense against animal disease outbreaks. With just over 250 graduates from veterinary schools going into livestock related fields, rural America is facing a monumental problem."

The signers of the letter ask Acting Secretary Connor to respond to them on the reasons behind the delay in implementing the Act and a timetable as to when CSREES plans to implement the program.