Repopulating Rural Veterinarians

By Geni Wren, Dairy Herd

In last Sunday’s Kansas City Star an article by John Milburn from the Associated Press talked about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signing a new law to create Rural Opportunity Zones in counties that have faced large population declines in the past decade. The point of the law is to lure new families to rural Kansas on the promise of no income taxes for five years.

These counties are in need of resident, jobs, and even veterinarians, though it can be difficult to recruit veterinarians to these areas. Mike Whitehair, DVM, Abilene Animal Hospital, Abilene, Kan., has served as an AVMA delegate for the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association and says the population of veterinarians seems to follow the growth or decline in people. Whitehair says there are a few examples of counties in Kansas where he looked at percent decline since 2000 and noted median age, number of farms, income per operation, number of cows and bushels of wheat produced. He says the numbers of veterinarians in those counties would be flat to declining. “When now Gov. Brownback was our U.S. senator, I had a good long discussion in his office about his desire to create an atmosphere to attract and retain people to move back to the rural areas,” Whitehair says. “I applaud his efforts in both arenas.”

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