New veterinarians who sign up for a three-year stint to work in specific rural areas of Wisconsin or work in public health statewide can get thousands of dollars to help pay off student loans.

The USDA Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program is taking applications through March 16 for veterinarians who agree to work where there are plenty of "food" animals, such as dairy and beef cattle, and possibly other livestock including swine, poultry, goats and sheep.

The six regions in greatest need of veterinarians include the Eau Claire-Trempealeau-Jackson counties area, Barron County, Chippewa County, Dunn County, the Adams-Columbia-Green Lake-Marquette counties area and the Calumet-Fond du Lac counties area.

"These are the areas of the state where we have identified a shortage of veterinarians working with food animals," said State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw.

"Statewide, we need veterinarians to work with government agencies and other organizations that deal with the intersection of animal health and public health," McGraw said.

For a three-year commitment, a veterinarian can get up to $25,000 a year to repay student loans used to earn the doctoral degree or equivalent from an accredited veterinary college.

Applications and more information about the program can be found at https://nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp-applicants

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