The South Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee has introduced a bill on behalf of Gov. Dennis Daugaard to fund an upgrade and expansion to the state animal disease research and diagnostic laboratory. Located on the campus of South Dakota State University, the facility serves as the state animal health laboratory.
The lab develops and conducts tests to identify animal diseases, creates new protocols to distinguish unique disease strains, and develops vaccines and other treatments to directly assist veterinarians, ranchers, farmers, pet owners, wildlife managers, public health officials, and state and federal agencies.
“When disease outbreaks risk the production of our food and the health of our citizens, a timely, accurate diagnosis of the cause is essential,” Gov. Daugaard said. “I look forward to working with the Legislature, agriculture industry and SDSU to sustain this public-private partnership and upgrade and expand the lab.”
The lab was built in 1967 and last upgraded in 1993. It is out-of-date, according to the Governor, and needs to be modernized to correct aging infrastructure, accommodate new technologies, and meet current and future health and safety standards.
“The lab is key to securing the livestock sector’s long-term viability, not just for South Dakota, but for the entire region,” Senate President Pro Tempore Brock Greenfield said. “Its economic impact extends to agriculture and beyond.”
Lab staff have been involved in combating significant livestock diseases, including porcine endemic diarrhea virus in 2013 and avian influenza in 2015. In the early 1980s, the lab identified a previously unknown swine virus and developed a widely-used vaccine to prevent it.
“Agriculture is South Dakota’s No. 1 industry,” added House Majority Leader Lee Qualm. “The lab provides critical research and diagnostic support to protect our citizens and livestock industry from disease outbreaks.”
In addition to proposed funding from the state general fund, the bill includes several agriculture-related fees to cover much of the $3 million per year bond payment.
“We all know the value of the lab to South Dakota livestock producers,” South Dakota Pork Producers Executive Director Glenn Muller said. “The key now is finding the right funding mix to get this done.”
“This is a good first step,” South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Larry Stomprud added. “The agriculture industry will be at the table, and we look forward to continued discussions on funding mechanisms.”