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Amid veterinarian shortage in rural areas, Mississippi State to offer new scholarship

Mississippi State University will soon be offering a program intended to bring workers into an underserved area of the agricultural industry.

With the unanimous passage and subsequent enactment of House Bill 1210 this year, the Starkville university is slated to offer the Dr. Elton Mac Huddleston Rural Veterinarians Scholarship program to incentivize more people to provide medical care to farm animals.

“We have a critical shortage of veterinarians in rural Mississippi that are willing to work on large animals,” Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick said on The Gallo Show.

The scholarship will be given to qualifying students pursuing a degree in veteran medicine on the condition that they agree to work in a rural area of Mississippi with at least 30 percent of their practice devoted to food supply animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses.

According to McCormick, the scholarship will also be used to help repay the loans of veterinarians who decide to go back to school to be further trained for large animal work in rural portions of the Magnolia State as part of their primary practice.

“If we can help them pay back their loans, they don’t have to go to a big city and do dog and cat work,” McCormick said.

To aid in launching the incoming scholarship, $18 million has been allocated to Mississippi State to upgrade the Wise Center, where the veterinary school is located, to bring a new diagnostic program and cattle facilities to better equip students for rural jobs.

The Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine will be tasked with administering the Dr. Elton Mac Huddleston Rural Veterinarians Scholarship, which will be available beginning this fall. Students who do not honor their end of the scholarship agreement will be required to pay back either the full amount they were granted or a figure determined by the university.

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