S.C. livestock veterinarian to work in underserved counties

By Peter Kent

A young veterinarian in Kershaw County is the first in South Carolina to be selected for a USDA program that helps repay his school costs in return for working in a region without enough food-supply veterinarians.  

Justin Martin is a 2006 Clemson alumnus and University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine graduate. He practices with Ronnie Fulmer at the Camden Veterinary Hospital.  

Under the tuition loan-repayment program, Martin will spend a percentage of his time for three years treating food animals in nine Pee Dee counties.  

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture created the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program to address veterinary shortages in rural America by repaying student loans of qualified veterinarians. USDA asked S.C. state Veterinarian Boyd Parr to nominate up to three areas where there is a shortage of veterinarians.  

"Dr. Martin’s selection is first of all due to his initiative and career goals," said Parr, director Clemson Livestock-Poultry Health, which includes meat inspection and the veterinary diagnostic center. "Justin is an example of a Clemson College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences graduate coming back to South Carolina to meet a vital need after leaving for veterinary school."  

Martin and his wife, Toni, a veterinary technician at the hospital, plan to make their home near Cassatt, a rural community east of Camden. Martin has wanted to be a veterinarian since his teenage years. "I wanted to stay connected to the land and give back to the agriculture community that helped me so much," he said.