Texas is facing a crisis that is impacting rural communities and threatens food security and safety for our nation. We have a shortage of rural and livestock veterinarians, and educational opportunities currently available in Texas are not enough to meet in-state demand.
Texas is an agricultural state. Yet roughly 50% of our state’s veterinary workforce is comprised of individuals who are educated outside of Texas. Moreover, educational programs outside of Texas and the country are providing 75% of the state’s incoming veterinarian workforce each year. To compound the problem, 40% of rural veterinarians in Texas are over the age of 60 and will likely leave the profession within the next decade — at a time when chronic demand for rural veterinarians is increasing.
It’s time to establish a second veterinary program in the state of Texas. The Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, based in Amarillo, is undeniably needed to address the unmet rural and livestock veterinary needs of our state.
— Meet educational demand and keep more students in-state: Every year, the majority of Texas students who want to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine are forced to leave the state for educational opportunities. The reason is that the current veterinary program at Texas A&M is at capacity. A second veterinary program available through Texas Tech and based in Amarillo would provide more opportunities to veterinary students, especially those from West Texas and rural areas of the state where veterinarians are in high demand.
— Ensure healthy herds and a safe food supply: We must protect the health of the animals we depend on to feed our families and the nation. Veterinarians play a critical role in screening for disease and protecting public health. A lack of enough veterinarians to provide those screenings is an urgent and continued issue that the state of Texas needs to address immediately.
— Locating the school in Amarillo addresses the needs of the livestock industry at its core: The overwhelming majority of cattle production in Texas is centered around Amarillo and the Panhandle. Giving veterinary students the ability to earn a degree where there is significant demand for veterinary services will benefit both students and the rural communities they will eventually serve.