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Vet shortage must be tackled


MEDIA RELEASE

9 May 2008

Vet shortage must be tackled

A new report has reinforced the urgent need to find ways to reverse declining numbers of veterinarians in rural New Zealand, said Graeme Peters, chief executive of Agcarm.

“Rural vets are vital to New Zealand’s economy and play a key role in maintaining high standards of animal welfare, so we cannot allow the current situation of falling vet numbers to continue,” Mr Peters said.

Agcarm is an industry association whose members include manufacturers of animal health products, many of which are prescribed by vets in rural areas.

“Agcarm members are concerned about the rural vet shortage because they want their products to be used properly and in a timely manner. Fewer vets in rural areas raises the risk of farm animals not being examined and diagnosed by vets or, at least, not in time for the animals to be treated effectively.

“Animal health companies rely on vets to prescribe the right product in the right amounts at the right time. With fewer vets, this might not happen,” Mr Peters said.

“Animal health companies obviously have a commercial interest in maintaining rural vet numbers because they want to sell their medicines and treatments, but there are other reasons to tackle the shortage of rural vets. These were outlined in a Business and Economic Research Limited report and a New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) discussion paper released yesterday and include disease prevention, biosecurity, residue control, animal welfare, and preparation in case of disease outbreaks.

“Agcarm congratulates the NZVA for casting the spotlight on what is becoming a serious problem,” Mr Peters said.

Agcarm supports efforts to explore solutions to the rural vet shortage. Agcarm already helps by offering a $2500 scholarship to third-year veterinary students to help fund their course fees. The 2008 scholarship winner will be announced this month.

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