OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A state law passed this year encourages new veterinarians to include large animals in their practices.

Gov. Brad Henry presided over a ceremonial signing of the bill at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

Its author, Rep. Steve Kouplen of Beggs, says it makes new veterinarians eligible for the Oklahoma Agricultural Linked Deposit Program if they devote 30 percent of their practice to large animals.

Kouplen says the trend is for veterinarians to specialize in the care of small animals and pets rather than large farm animals. The shift has had an adverse affect on farmers and ranchers, who face greater obstacles in securing veterinary care.

The Oklahoma Agricultural Linked Deposit Program helps participating banks lower their interest rates on loans for qualifying farms and agricultural-related businesses.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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