Minnesota’s veterinary medicine profession is dedicated to keeping Minnesota’s animals healthy, which safeguards animal agriculture, ensures public health, protects natural resources, and cares for pets, which have become important family members. Now, a new study from the University of Minnesota Extension and the Department of Applied Economics has found the veterinary medicine industry also provides an economic boost, contributing $1.5 billion annually to Minnesota’s economy.

The report, Economic Contribution of the Veterinary Medicine Industry in Minnesota, attributes the amount to the economic activity generated by the estimated $680 million in annual combined wages and salaries collected by the 14,500 people employed within the state’s veterinary medicine industry.

“Veterinarians are on the front lines, playing a major role in all animal-related industries, from serving as small animal veterinarians to identifying zoonotic diseases and managing outbreaks,” said Trevor Ames, DVM, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “Outside of care delivery, veterinary medicine professionals implement control and eradication strategies in animal populations, develop health management protocols and safe, effective treatments, and identify food-borne pathogens in animal-derived food products, assuring they are safe for consumers.”

According to the report, private veterinary practices and clinics located throughout the state account for the bulk of the veterinary workforce and the vast majority of economic activity, with $550 million in salaries and wages paid to 7,700 people, including 1,800 veterinarians. Only 10 of Minnesota’s 87 counties are not home to a private veterinary practice, and outstate veterinary practices specializing in food animal medicine contribute significantly to the total economic impact. However, their contribution is difficult to measure, because the value of their efforts often depends on a non-event.

Private industry – including medical device and pharmaceutical companies – employs 80 highly compensated veterinarians who generate an estimated $37 million in economic activity.

State and federal government agencies regulating and safeguarding human and animal health and safety such as the Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Zoo, and the Minnesota Departments of Health, Agriculture, and Natural Resources employ 97 veterinarians throughout the state. Together, they generate $24 million in economic activity.

Academic institutions contribute an estimated $230 million in economic output annually and are responsible for the employment of 930 individuals. These institutions include 13 private and public institutions of higher education in Minnesota, which train veterinary technicians, and one institution, the College of Veterinary Medicine, which trains veterinarians.

“We are very proud of the fact that most of the state’s veterinarians were trained at the University of Minnesota,” said Ames. “Because many of our graduates choose to practice here, we benefit the state’s economy and animal health by producing professionals who choose to live and conduct business here.”

The University’s Veterinary Medical Center is a full-service referral care center for both large and small animals, and the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provides rapid diagnosis of animal diseases, identifies emerging diseases, develops new diagnostic techniques, and trains future diagnosticians.

The study was funded by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Foundation.