[108th Congress Public Law 161]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[DOCID: f:publ161.108]

[[Page 2013]]


[[Page 117 STAT. 2014]]

Public Law 108-161
108th Congress

                                 An Act

 To authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a loan repayment 
   program regarding the provision of veterinary services in shortage 
   situations, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Dec. 6, 2003 -  [H.R. 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: National 
Veterinary Medical Service Act.>> 

SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 7 USC 3101 note.>> SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``National Veterinary Medical Service 


    The National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy 
Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.) is amended by inserting after 
section 1415 the following new section:


    ``(a) Program.--
            ``(1) Service <<NOTE: Contracts.>> in shortage situations.--
        The Secretary shall carry out a program of entering into 
        agreements with veterinarians under which the veterinarians 
        agree to provide, for a period of time as determined by the 
        Secretary and specified in the agreement, veterinary services in 
        veterinarian shortage situations. For each year of such service 
        under an agreement under this paragraph, the Secretary shall pay 
        an amount, as determined by the Secretary and specified in the 
        agreement, of the principal and interest of qualifying 
        educational loans of the veterinarians.
            ``(2) Service to federal government in emergency 
                    ``(A) In general.--The Secretary may enter into 
                agreements of 1 year duration with veterinarians who 
                have agreements pursuant to paragraph (1) for such 
                veterinarians to provide services to the Federal 
                Government in emergency situations, as determined by the 
                Secretary, under terms and conditions specified in the 
                agreement. Pursuant to an agreement under this 
                paragraph, the Secretary shall pay an amount, in 
                addition to the amount paid pursuant to the agreement in 
                paragraph (1), as determined by the Secretary and 
                specified in the agreement, of the principal and 
                interest of qualifying educational loans of the 
                    ``(B) Requirements.--Agreements entered into under 
                this paragraph shall include the following:

[[Page 117 STAT. 2015]]

                          ``(i) A veterinarian shall not be required to 
                      serve more than 60 working days per year of the 
                          ``(ii) A veterinarian who provides service 
                      pursuant to the agreement shall receive a salary 
                      commensurate with the duties and shall be 
                      reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses as 
                      appropriate for the duration of the service.

    ``(b) Determination of Veterinarian Shortage Situations.--In 
determining `veterinarian shortage situations' the Secretary may 
consider the following:
            ``(1) Urban or rural areas that the Secretary determines 
        have a shortage of veterinarians.
            ``(2) Areas of veterinary practice that the Secretary 
        determines have a shortage of veterinarians, such as public 
        health, epidemiology, and food safety.
            ``(3) Areas of veterinary need in the Federal Government.
            ``(4) Other factors that the Secretary considers to be 

    ``(c) Administration.--
            ``(1) Authority.--The Secretary may carry out this program 
        directly or enter into agreements with another Federal agency or 
        other service provider to assist in the administration of this 
            ``(2) Breach remedies.--
                    ``(A) In general.--Agreements with program 
                participants shall provide remedies for any breach of an 
                agreement by a participant, including repayment or 
                partial repayment of financial assistance received, with 
                    ``(B) Amounts recovered.--Funds recovered under this 
                subsection shall be credited to the account available to 
                carry out this section and shall remain available until 
            ``(3) Waiver.--The Secretary may grant a waiver of the 
        repayment obligation for breach of contract in the event of 
        extreme hardship or extreme need, as determined by the 
            ``(4) Amount.--The <<NOTE: Regulations.>> Secretary shall 
        develop regulations to determine the amount of loan repayment 
        for a year of service by a veterinarian. In making the 
        determination, the Secretary shall consider the extent to which 
        such determination--
                    ``(A) affects the ability of the Secretary to 
                maximize the number of agreements that can be provided 
                under the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program 
                from the amounts appropriated for such agreements; and
                    ``(B) provides an incentive to serve in veterinary 
                service shortage areas with the greatest need.
            ``(5) Qualifying educational loans.--Loan repayments 
        provided under this section may consist of payments on behalf of 
        participating individuals of the principal and interest on 
        government and commercial loans received by the individual for 
        attendance of the individual at an accredited college of 
        veterinary medicine resulting in a degree of Doctor of 
        Veterinary Medicine or the equivalent, which loans were made 
                    ``(A) tuition expenses;
                    ``(B) all other reasonable educational expenses, 
                including fees, books, and laboratory expenses, incurred 
                by the individual; or

[[Page 117 STAT. 2016]]

                    ``(C) reasonable living expenses as determined by 
                the Secretary.
            ``(6) Repayment schedule.--The Secretary may enter into an 
        agreement with the holder of any loan for which payments are 
        made under this section to establish a schedule for the making 
        of such payments.
            ``(7) Tax liability.--In addition to educational loan 
        repayments, the Secretary shall make such additional payments to 
        participants as the Secretary determines to be appropriate for 
        the purpose of providing reimbursements to participants for 
        individual tax liability resulting from participation in this 

    ``(d) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated for carrying out this section such sums as may be necessary 
and such sums shall remain available to the Secretary for the purposes 
of this section until expended.''.

    Approved December 6, 2003.


            Nov. 17, considered and passed House.
            Nov. 24, considered and passed Senate.