[October 10, 2023; Philadelphia, PA] – Associate Professor of Clinical Dairy Production Joseph S. Bender
and Dairy Production Fellow Sarah Rassler
at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) have received a $248,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to establish a comprehensive program designed to train recent veterinary graduates and prospective veterinarians in advanced production techniques. The program represents a vital step towards improving the sustainability of rural, animal agriculture communities.
Food animal veterinary service providers are integral to the success of livestock producer and animal production systems, and their symbiotic relationship directly impacts each other’s survival. Unfortunately, counteractive pressures have developed over time, leading to producer failures and the dilution of livestock availability, which in turn increases the time and cost of providing veterinary services. This cycle contributes to veterinary shortages, veterinarian burnout, and a daunting environment for students interested in rural veterinary medicine.
“The primary goal of this project is to enhance the economic viability of dairy producers, recognizing that their success is intertwined with the economic health of rural communities and industry partners,” said Bender who is co-leading the project. “By equipping recent veterinary graduates with advanced production medicine skills, connecting current veterinary students with experienced mentors, and engaging rising high school students, Penn Vet seeks to break the adverse chain of circumstances and create a positive impact on rural veterinary medicine.”
The grant is awarded through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) Awards. The VSGP, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, is designed to help mitigate food animal veterinary service shortages in the U.S. It funds education and extension activities that will enable veterinarians and veterinary students to gain specialized food animal skills and to enhance practices.