FORT ST. JOHN -- The province has announced a new pilot program that will lend a hand in addressing veterinarian shortages impacting farmers and ranchers in British Columbia.

The program will provide rural clinics that offer care to livestock and farm animals with funding for student placement opportunities.

The placements will support practices with staffing, while offsetting the cost of wages and travel associated with rural vet care with up to $6000 per student intake.

“These placements will offer clinics immediate staffing help over the summer, as well as the prospect of attracting full-time employees after graduation, while providing more support to B.C. farmers seeking care for their animals,” said Minister of Agriculture and Food Pam Alexis.

The program is funded by both the federal and provincial government through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, and will provide up to $300,000 for 50 placements.

The partnership aims to strengthen the country’s agriculture sector.

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in an accredited veterinary college and have completed at least one year of study.

Veterinary practices must offer services for livestock and farm animals including cattle and poultry, in addition to being accredited by the College of Veterinarians of B.C.

“By offering students the experience and skills they need to treat livestock and farm animals, this investment will help ensure that B.C.’s veterinary offices can continue to meet demand for services well into the future,” said federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay.

Applications are currently open on a first-come, first-serve basis until April 15, 2024, or until funding is fully allocated.