[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 236 (Thursday, December 8, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 88658-88661]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-29424]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Solicitation of Veterinary Shortage Situation Nominations for the 
Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP)

AGENCY: National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

ACTION: Notice and solicitation for nominations.

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SUMMARY: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is 
soliciting nominations of veterinary service shortage situations for 
the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) for fiscal year 
(FY) 2017, as authorized under the National Veterinary Medical Services 
Act (NVMSA), 7 U.S.C. 3151a. This notice initiates the nomination 
period and prescribes the procedures and criteria to be used by States, 
Insular Areas, DC and Federal Lands to nominate veterinary shortage 
situations. Each year all eligible nominating entities may submit 
nominations, up to the maximum indicated for each entity in this 
notice. NIFA is conducting this solicitation of veterinary shortage 
situation nominations under a previously approved information 
collection (OMB Control Number 0524-0046).

DATES: Shortage situation nominations must be submitted on or before 
February 8, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Submissions must be made by clicking the submit button on 
the Veterinarian Shortage Situation nomination form provided in the 
VMLRP Shortage Situations section at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp.
    This form is sent as a data file directly to the Veterinary 
Medicine Loan Repayment Program; National Institute of Food and 
Agriculture; U.S. Department of Agriculture.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Danielle Tack; Program Coordinator, 
Veterinary Science; National Institute of Food and Agriculture; U.S. 
Department of Agriculture; STOP 2220; 1400 Independence Avenue 
SW.,Washington, DC 20250-2220; Voice: 202-401-6802; Fax: 202-401-6156; 
Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background and Purpose

    Food supply veterinary medicine embraces a broad array of 
veterinary professional activities, specialties and responsibilities, 
and is defined as the full range of veterinary medical practices 
contributing to the production of a safe and wholesome food supply and 
to animal, human, and environmental health. A series of studies and 
reports 1-6 have drawn attention to maldistributions in the 
veterinary workforce leaving some communities, especially rural areas, 
with insufficient access to food supply veterinary services.
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    \1\ Government Accountability Office, Veterinary Workforce: 
Actions Are Needed to Ensure Sufficient Capacity for Protecting 
Public and Animal Health, GAO-09-178: Feb 18, 2009).
    \2\ National Academies of Science, Workforce Needs in Veterinary 
Medicine, 2013.
    \3\ Andrus DM, Gwinner KP, Prince, JB. Food Supply Veterinary 
Medicine Coalition Report: Estimating FSM Demand and Maintaining the 
Availability of Veterinarians in Food Supply Related Disciplines in 
the United States and Canada, 2016. https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Food-Supply-Veterinary-Medicine-Coalition-Report.aspx.
    \4\ Andrus DM, Gwinner KP, Prince, JB. Future demand, probable 
shortages and strategies for creating a better future in food supply 
veterinary medicine. 2006, JAVMA 229(1):57-69.
    \5\ Andrus DM, Gwinner KP, Prince, JB. Attracting students to 
careers in food supply veterinary medicine. 2006, JAVMA 
228(1):16931704.
    \6\ Andrus DM, Gwinner KP, Prince, JB. Job satisfaction, changes 
in occupational area and commitment to a career in food supply 
veterinary medicine. 2006, JAVMA 228(12):1884-1893.
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    Two programs, born out of this concern, aim to mitigate the 
maldistribution of the veterinary workforce: The Veterinary Medicine 
Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and Veterinary Services Grant Program 
(VSGP), both administered by USDA--NIFA. VMLRP addresses increasing 
veterinary school debt by offering veterinary school debt payments in 
exchange for service in shortage situations, while VSGP addresses other 
factors contributing to the maldistribution of veterinarians serving 
the agricultural sector. Specifically, the VSGP promotes availability 
and access to (1) specialized education and training which will enable 
veterinarians and veterinary technicians to provide services in 
designated veterinarian shortage situations, and (2) practice-enhancing 
equipment and personnel resources to enable veterinary practices to 
expand or improve access to veterinary services.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
regulations (5 CFR part 1320) that implement the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), the information collection and 
recordkeeping requirements imposed by the implementation of these 
guidelines have been approved by OMB Control Number 0524-0046.

[[Page 88659]]

List of Subjects in Guidelines for Veterinary Shortage Situation 
Nominations

I. Preface and Authority
II. Nomination of Veterinary Shortage Situations
    A. General
    1. Eligible Shortage Situations
    2. Authorized Respondents and Use of Consultation
    3. State Allocation of Nominations
    4. FY 2017 Shortage Situation Nomination Process
    5. Submission and Due Date
    6. Period Covered
    7. Definitions
    B. Nomination Form
    C. NIFA Review of Shortage Situation Nominations
    1. Review Panel Composition and Process
    2. Review Criteria
Guidelines for Veterinary Shortage Situation Nominations

I. Preface and Authority

    In January 2003, the National Veterinary Medical Service Act 
(NVMSA) was passed into law adding section 1415A to the National 
Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1997 
(NARETPA). This law established a new Veterinary Medicine Loan 
Repayment Program (7 U.S.C. 3151a) authorizing the Secretary of 
Agriculture to carry out a program of entering into agreements with 
veterinarians under which they agree to provide veterinary services in 
veterinarian shortage situations. In FY 2010, NIFA announced the first 
funding opportunity for the VMLRP.
    Section 7104 of the 2014 Farm Bill (Pub. L. 113-79) added section 
1415B to NARETPA, as amended, (7 U.S.C. 3151b) to establish the 
Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP). This amendment authorizes the 
Secretary of Agriculture to make competitive grants to qualified 
entities and individual veterinarians that carry out programs in 
veterinarian shortage situations and for the purpose of developing, 
implementing, and sustaining veterinary services. Funding for the VSGP 
was first appropriated in 2016 through the Consolidated Appropriations 
Act, 2016 (Pub. L. 114-113).
    Pursuant to the requirements enacted in the NVMSA of 2004 (as 
revised), and the implementing regulation for this Act, part 3431 
subpart A of the VMLRP Final Rule [75 FR 20239-20248], NIFA hereby 
implements guidelines for authorized State Animal Health Officials 
(SAHO) to nominate veterinary shortage situations for the FY 2017 
program cycle.

II. Nomination of Veterinary Shortage Situations

A. General

1. Eligible Shortage Situations
    Section 1415A of NARETPA, as amended and revised by Section 7105 of 
the Food, Conservation and Energy Act, directs determination of 
veterinarian shortage situations for the VMLRP to consider (1) 
geographical areas that the Secretary determines have a shortage of 
veterinarians; and (2) areas of veterinary practice that the Secretary 
determines have a shortage of veterinarians, such as food animal 
medicine, public health, epidemiology, and food safety. This section 
also added that priority should be given to agreements with 
veterinarians for the practice of food animal medicine in veterinarian 
shortage situations.
    While the NVMSA (as amended) specifies priority be given to food 
animal medicine shortage situations, and that consideration also be 
given to specialty areas such as public health, epidemiology and food 
safety, the Act does not identify any areas of veterinary practice as 
ineligible. Accordingly, all nominated veterinary shortage situations 
will be considered eligible for submission. However, assessment of 
submitted nominations by the external review panel convened by NIFA 
will reflect that priority be given to certain types of veterinary 
service shortage situations. NIFA therefore anticipates that the more 
competitive nominations will be those directly addressing food supply 
veterinary medicine shortage situations.
    A subset of the shortages designated for VMLRP applicants are also 
available to satisfy requirements, as applicable, for VSGP applicants. 
In addition, a shortage situation under the VSGP Rural Practice 
Enhancement program area must also be designated rural as defined in 
section 343(a) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 
U.S.C. 1991(a)).
    NIFA adopted definitions for the practice of veterinary medicine 
and the practice of food supply medicine that are broadly inclusive of 
the critical roles veterinarians serve in both public practice and 
private practice situations. Nominations describing either public or 
private practice veterinary shortage situations are eligible for 
submission.
2. State Respondents and Use of Consultation
    The only authorized respondent on behalf of each State is the chief 
SAHO, as duly authorized by the Governor or the Governor's designee in 
each State. The chief SAHO must submit nominations using the 
Veterinarian Shortage Situation Nomination Form (OMB Control Number 
0524-0046), which is available in the VMLRP Shortage Situations section 
on the VMLRP Web site at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp. One form must be 
submitted for each nominated shortage situation. When ``SUBMIT'' is 
selected on the form a data file will be sent directly to NIFA. NIFA 
strongly encourages the SAHO to involve leading health animal experts 
in the State in the identification and prioritization of shortage 
situation nominations.
3. State Allocation of Nominations
    NIFA will accept the number of nominations equivalent to the 
maximum number of designated shortage areas for each state. For 
historical background and more information on the rationale for capping 
nominations and state allocation method, please visit 
www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp.
    The maximum number of nominations (and potential designations) is 
based on data from the 2012 Agricultural Census conducted by the USDA 
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Awards from previous 
years have no bearing on a state's maximum number of allowable shortage 
nomination submissions or designations in any given year, or number of 
nominations or designations allowed for subsequent years. NIFA reserves 
the right in the future to proportionally adjust the maximum number of 
designated shortage situations per state to ensure a balance between 
available funds and the requirement to ensure that priority is given to 
mitigating veterinary shortages corresponding to situations of greatest 
need. Nomination Allocation tables for FY 2017 are available under the 
VMLRP Shortage Situations section of the VMLRP Web site at 
www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp.
    Table I lists the maximum nomination allocations by state. Table II 
lists ``Special Consideration Areas'' which include any State or 
Insular Area not reporting data to NASS, reporting less than $1,000,000 
in annual Livestock and Livestock Products Total Sales ($), and/or 
possessing less than 500,000 acres. One nomination is allocated to any 
State or Insular Area classified as a Special Consideration Area.
    Table III shows the values and quartile ranks of States for two 
variables broadly correlated with demand for food supply veterinary 
services: ``Livestock and Livestock Products Total Sales ($)'' (LPTS) 
and ``Land Area (acres)'' (LA).

[[Page 88660]]

The maximum number of NIFA-designated shortage situations per state is 
based on the sum of quartile rankings for LPTS and LA for each state 
and can be found in Table IV.
    While Federal Lands are widely dispersed within States and Insular 
Areas across the country, they constitute a composite total land area 
over twice the size of Alaska. If the 200-mile limit U.S. coastal 
waters and associated fishery areas are included, Federal Land total 
acreage would exceed 1 billion. Both State and Federal Animal Health 
officials have responsibilities for matters relating to terrestrial and 
aquatic food animal health on Federal Lands. Interaction between 
wildlife and domestic livestock, such as sheep and cattle, is 
particularly common in the plains states where significant portions of 
Federal lands are leased for grazing. Therefore, both SAHOs and the 
Chief Federal Animal Health Officer (Deputy Administrator of the Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service or designee) may submit nominations 
to address shortage situations on or related to Federal Lands.
    NIFA emphasizes that the shortage nomination allocation is set to 
broadly balance the number of designated shortage situations across 
states prior to the nomination and award phases of the VMLRP and VSGP. 
Awards will be made based strictly on the peer review panels' 
assessment according to each program's review criteria; thus no state 
will be given a preference for placement of awardees. Additionally, 
each designated shortage situation will be limited to one award per 
program.
4. FY 2017 Shortage Situation Nomination Process
    For the FY 2017 program cycle, all eligible submitting entities 
may: (1) Request to retain designated status for any shortage situation 
successfully designated in 2016 and/or (2) submit new nominations. Any 
shortage from FY 2016 not retained or submitted as a new nomination 
will not be considered a shortage situation in 2017. The total number 
of new nominations plus designated nominations retained (carried over) 
may not exceed the maximum number of nominations each entity is 
permitted. ALL nominations, new and retained, will be evaluated by the 
2017 review panel.
    The following process is the mechanism for retaining a designated 
nomination: Each SAHO should review the map of VMLRP designated 
shortage situations for FY 2016 (http://go.usa.gov/xkFD3) and download 
a PDF copy of the nomination form for each designated area that remains 
open (not awarded) in FY 2016. If the SAHO wishes to retain (carry 
over) one or more designated nomination(s), the SAHO shall copy and 
paste the prior year information into the current year's nomination 
form and select ``SUBMIT.''
    Both new and retained nominations must be submitted on the 
Veterinary Shortage Situation Nomination form provided in the VMLRP 
Shortage Situations section at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp.
5. Submission and Due Date
    Submissions must be made by clicking the submit button on the 
Veterinarian Shortage Situation nomination form provided in the VMLRP 
Shortage Situations section at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp.
    This form is sent as a data file directly to the Veterinary 
Medicine Loan Repayment Program; National Institute of Food and 
Agriculture; U.S. Department of Agriculture; Shortage situation 
nominations. Both new and retained (carry-over) nominations must be 
submitted on or before February 8, 2017.
7. Period Covered
    Each shortage situation is approved for one program year cycle 
only. However, any previously approved shortage situation not filled in 
a given program year may be resubmitted as a retained (carry-over) 
nomination. Retained (carry-over) shortage nominations will be required 
to undergo panel merit review for 2017. Starting in 2018 retained 
shortages (without any revisions) will be automatically approved for up 
to three years before requiring another merit review. By resubmitting a 
carry-over nomination, the SAHO is affirming that in his or her 
professional judgment the original case made for shortage status, and 
the original description of needs, remain current and accurate.
8. Definitions
    For the purpose of implementing the solicitation for veterinary 
shortage situations, the definitions provided in 7 CFR part 3431 are 
applicable.

B. Nomination Form

    The VMLRP Shortage Nomination Form must be used to nominate 
Veterinarian Shortage Situations. Once designated as a shortage 
situation, VMLRP applicants will use the information to select shortage 
situations they are willing and qualified to fill, and to guide the 
preparation of their applications. NIFA will use the information to 
assess contractual compliance of awardees. The form is available in the 
VMLRP Shortage Situations section at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp. The 
completed form must be sent to NIFA by selecting ``SUBMIT'' on the 
nomination form.
    Detailed directions for each field can be found at http://go.usa.gov/xkFDY.

C. NIFA Review of Shortage Situation Nominations

1. Review Panel Composition and Process
    NIFA will convene a panel of food supply veterinary medicine 
experts from Federal and State agencies, as well as institutions 
receiving Animal Health and Disease Research Program funds under 
section 1433 of NARETPA, to review the nominations and make 
recommendations to the NIFA Program Manager. NIFA will review the 
panel's recommendations and designate the VMLRP shortage situations. 
The list of approved shortage situations will be made available on the 
VMLRP Web site at www.nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp.
2. Review Criteria
    Criteria used by the shortage situation nomination review panel and 
NIFA for certifying a veterinary shortage situation will be consistent 
with the information requested in the shortage situations nomination 
form. NIFA understands the process for defining the risk landscape 
associated veterinary service shortages within a state may require 
consideration of many qualitative and quantitative factors. In 
addition, each shortage situation will be characterized by a different 
array of subjective and objective supportive information that must be 
developed into a cogent case identifying, characterizing, and 
justifying a given geographic or disciplinary area as deficient in 
certain types of veterinary capacity or service. To accommodate the 
uniqueness of each shortage situation, the nomination form provides 
opportunities to present a case using both supportive metrics and 
narrative explanations to define and explain the proposed need.
    While NIFA anticipates some arguments made in support of a given 
shortage situation will be qualitative, respondents are encouraged to 
present verifiable quantitative and qualitative evidentiary information 
wherever possible. Absence of quantitative data such as animal and 
veterinarian census data for the proposed shortage area(s) may lead the 
panel to recommend disapproval of the shortage nomination.
    The maximum point value that panelists may award for each element 
is as follows:

[[Page 88661]]

    20 points: Describe the objectives of a veterinarian to meet the 
needs of the shortage situation in the community, area, state/insular 
area, or position requested above.
    20 points: Describe the activities required of a veterinarian to 
meet the needs of the shortage situation located in the community, 
area, state/insular area, or position requested above.
    5 points: Describe any past efforts to recruit and retain a 
veterinarian to achieve the objectives and activities in the shortage 
situation identified above.
    35 points: Describe the risk of this veterinarian position not 
being filled or retained. Include the risk(s) to the production of a 
safe and wholesome food supply and/or to animal, human, and 
environmental health not only in the community but in the region, 
state/insular area, nation, and/or international community.
    An additional 20 points will be used to evaluate overall merit/
quality of the case made for each nomination.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 30th day of November, 2016.
Sonny Ramaswamy,
Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
[FR Doc. 2016-29424 Filed 12-7-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-22-P