Large Animal Vets Needed
But there's a new program to change all that. The decline is in large animal veterinarians and it's nothing new in mid-Missouri.
"We started seeing that about 20 years ago," said Ron Cott Associate Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs.
Currently, only 71 large-animal veterinarians practice in Missouri. That number will decline further as nine will soon need to retire or have difficulties due to physical problems. But the small number of vets is starting to hurt the state.
"I know a veterinarian that has been trying to hire a food animal veterinarian for like six years," said Dr. Bob Barnett veterinarian.
Now, the state government is getting involved. Governor Blunt announced a half-a-million dollar large animal veterinary student loan program. Blunt said he supports the initiative to help Missouri farmers.
"For the continued prosperity of family farms, we need large animal veterinarians. And this initiative will help by creating compelling incentives for students entering veterinary medicine to use their talent for the betterment of under-served areas in our state," said Blunt.
The University of Missouri will select six veterinarian students for the loan program. They will receive $20,000 for the four years they attend the college of veterinary medicine.
Some say the funding will definitely help bring in students because it will ease the worry of school debt.
"You want to pay that off as soon as possible. You know, you want to get a job that will help do that. Sometimes when you start out, right out of college, going to vet...into veterinarian practice, it's hard to build up your cliental and make enough to pay off right at the bat," said Charina Luton William Woods Equine Science.
But is six scholarships enough?
Rural veterinarians travel extensively over a county; they may cover a large section of the county, if not all of the county.
So, if that area is identified as under-served and you put a veterinarian in that spot, six is going to make a difference," said Associate Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs, Dr. Ron Cott.
It's a difference students and farmers say can't come quick enough.
The university will try to start the program next year.