According to a report commissioned by Farm Journal Foundation, the U.S. is facing an alarming shortfall of veterinarians in rural areas. More than 500 counties across the U.S. are experiencing shortages of food animal veterinarians, according to a report authored by Cornell University’s Dr. Clinton Neill. Only 3 – 4% of new veterinary school graduates pursue livestock or other food-animal practice areas, a shocking decline from 40 years ago when roughly 40% of graduates specialized in this area.

The shortage is attributed to a few reasons including high levels of education debt that outpace potential earnings, particularly in rural areas. The consequence of a shortage includes several direct risks on food safety threats and animal disease outbreaks. It is estimated 3.7 million livestock jobs are at stake without enough food animal veterinarians and reliable access to the services they provide.

Read more on veterinarian shortages, associated risks and potential solutions here.