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Kentucky group finalizes recommendations to increase the number of large animal veterinarians


Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his Veterinarian Shortage Working Group recently approved several recommendations to combat the large animal vet shortage in the Commonwealth. The group was originally formed 18 months ago to begin forming possible solutions to the growing issue.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said the many recommendations passed last week will be a guidebook for Kentucky and other states.

“My hope is that our recommendations do not sit on the shelf and collect dust, but that they are implemented and that they are evaluated along the way to make sure that our end goal is being achieved,” said Quarles.

One of the group’s recommendations is to identify younger rural Kentuckians who are interested in the large animal vet field and providing them with mentorship, externships, and the tools to prepare them for further education.

Officials said only about three percent of veterinarians in Kentucky have dedicated large animal practices and almost 40 percent of them are within 10 years of retirement.

Therefore, Quarles said another recommendation included reducing student debt and making it more affordable to start a practice.

“If we identify those students that really have a passion for large animal food production practices then we can be successful. And another recommendation not to be overlooked was evaluating our reciprocity agreements and perhaps asking for funding for additional slots at vet schools that would focus on large animal practices,” said Quarles.

Quarles said Kentucky’s problems are not unique, rural states across America are experiencing the same shortage, but Kentucky is leading the way in the discussion. The Agriculture Commissioner said the next step in combating the shortage is implementing these approved methods.