One of the items the Governor mentioned in his budget address in December is the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (ADRDL) in Brookings. There will be a special appropriation request to spend $1.575 million from the state’s Livestock Disease Emergency Fund to pay for detailed planning and design to upgrade and expand the lab.
ADRDL plays a critical role in helping protect the state’s citizens and livestock industry from disease outbreaks. Located on the SDSU campus, the lab provides both diagnostic support and critical research to identify animal diseases, create new protocols to distinguish unique disease strains, and develop vaccines and other treatments to help veterinarians, ranchers, farmers, pet owners, wildlife managers, public health officials, and state and federal agencies. For example, ADRDL staff played a key role in diagnosing the Avian Flu outbreaks, and helped develop a test to detect the genetic material that caused a serious disease outbreak in 2013 and 2014 among hogs.
The current lab was built nearly 50 years ago, and was upgraded in 1993. It is out-of-date and over-crowded. Throughout the summer, I have been part of a work group focused on the need to modernize the ADRDL to correct aging infrastructure, accommodate new technologies, and meet current and future needs. The lab is overcrowded, with some scientists working in areas that were originally designed as closet space. In addition, the ADRDL needs to upgrade its BioSafety Level status to be able to deal with dangerous pathogens and to keep South Dakota current with National Animal Health Laboratory Network Standards, which will allow for continued testing on many animal diseases found in our state.
The work group, chaired by our State Veterinarian, has included staff from the Governor’s Office, the State Engineer, SDSU, veterinarians, the livestock industry, other legislators, and nationally renowned experts. Throughout our discussions, the focus has been on identifying the true needs for South Dakota as we look to the future, as well as maximizing the useful life of the current facility. This special appropriation, along with additional funding from SDSU, will provide detailed project drawings along with an estimate of the total project cost. That information will be used as the basis for potential project approval in the 2017 Legislative Session.
The Appropriations Committee has already started its task of hearing budget requests from state agencies. Other committees are spending their first few meetings gathering background information, with bill hearings starting next week.
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