Vet Shortage and Arkansas Ranchers


Here is a great opportunity to try out your Agvocate skills. The following is a portion of a news story from Arkansas covering the current food safety bill in Congress. This station along with the interview clips from a local cattleman, portrays the picture that ranchers are taking into their own hands the medical treatment of animals without the advice of licensed veterinarians.

This week, the US Senate approved tougher standards to make sure the food we eat is safe. It covers everything, but our meats. KARK 4’s Bakari Savage shows how maintaining cattle to produce quality meats is a challenge for farmers, so much so ranchers are having to learn to become veterinarians.

“Standing there, there’s your steak. There’s your prime rib,” says, Diamond TR Ranch’s Tom Barnard. The ranch foreman says this is his way of life, providing the meat we eat. Doing that, especially on the 340-acre Diamond TR Ranch, is tougher than you may think.

Barnard explains, “Cows have several different diseases that you need medical advice and somebody.” The lack of large animal vets to provide the care for cattle is a problem in 1,500 counties around the country and in Arkansas, as well. Barnard admits, “I know that the vets, they’re sticking more towards the small animals. For coming out on a farm call, I mean, it’s cold. It’s wet. It’s nasty. I don’t blame them for not wanting to come out here.”

That’s just it. Vet school students don’t want to work in those conditions for low pay.

In fact, veterinarians that did care for cattle have slowly shifted away from doing so, leaving ranchers like Tom Barnard to do it themselves. This hurts their bottom line and isn’t so good for our food. He explains, “You may not be able to send them to market because of all of the antibiotics and things you’ve got to pump into them.”

For the cattle that isn’t fit for us to eat, it’s turned into dog food. This means less money for the rancher. To address the large animal vet shortage, students are being enticed with the opportunity for an all expense paid education just as long as they dedicate a certain number of years to working with cattle.

via Calling All Vets, Ranchers Need Your Help – ArkansasMatters.com.

Here is how you can help out. Click on the link above to leave a comment on the story page. Include a positive message that shares at least one fact about beef production. Make sure that it demonstrates the work livestock producers do to produce quality, safe meat for consumers.

Let me know what you think about this and if you leave a comment on the story.

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