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A serious veterinarian shortage in rural America is making the nation’s food supply more vulnerable to outbreaks of deadly diseases.
The veterinarian shortage means that diseased meat, eggs, and milk might go untested and end up in supermarkets, Mark Stetter explained. Stetter is currently the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University. Furthermore, Stetter thinks the vet shortage can cause epidemics and food shortages.
“When we think about diseases that are foreign, that don’t exist within the United States, things like foot and mouth disease, or a list of other diseases that could really devastate our livestock industry … veterinarians perform that first line of defense,” Stetter told NPR.
Such a devastating disease outbreak has already occurred. Most noteworthy, 50.4 million turkeys and chickens died of bird flu in 2015, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated. The USDA estimates that the epidemic affected 211 commercial flocks and 21 backyard flocks in 15 states.
Veterinarian Shortage Creates Holes In The First Line of Defense
Large-animal veterinarians test animals like hogs and cattle before anyone can slaughter them, NPR reported. If there are no large-animal vets, then there is no testing. Consequently, diseased animals might go on to the slaughterhouse and ultimately to the supermarket.
There are 187 rural areas without sufficient access to a veterinarian, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported. That means nobody is checking cattle, sheep, and hogs for diseases.
One of the reasons for the shortfall is that veterinary school costs a great deal of money, Stetter said. Veterinary students have to take out substantial student loans to pay for school. This financial burden forces them to take higher paying jobs in large cities to pay off the debt.
The average veterinarian graduates college with $143,757 in debt, the American Association of Veterinary Medicine calculated. Stetter noted that around 30% of his students were interested in becoming large-animal vets, but only 10% did so because of debt repayment.
In conclusion, families that want a safe and sufficient supply of healthy meat would be well advised to raise their own livestock if possible. Meat shortages and rising prices are likely because of the veterinarian shortage.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Biosecurity: 7 Steps To Protecting Your Livestock From Deadly Disease
Or download our free 37-page report which details dangerous new trends that will change America forever: Food Shock
Do you have any additional thoughts about the veterinarian shortage in rural America? Let us know in the comments below.