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New Diagnostic Lab for ISDA

“5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1…” 

- Cutting the Ribbon –

“There we go!” -Cheers-

With that the new Diagnostic Laboratory for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture officially opens. Plans for the 10-million-dollar facility have been in the works for years, but funding in the legislature never quite came together.

“But as time went on, we had a new governor, and a new governor with a vision and that kind of pushed us to be doing things that we should be doing and so this old director decided we better get with it and we got the money for the new lab,”

ISDA Director Celia Gould said her staff made sure the new lab could accommodate the huge increases in testing demands.

 “They really did a great job of asking people what we needed, and asking our industry partners what we needed,” said Gould.

“One of the things that we just have to think about is the growth that’s taken place in Idaho,” said Idaho Governor Brad Little.

“About 2016 we had zero large cattle processing facilities in the state. In a year and a half, we will have four new, modern, sophisticated, state of the art animal processing facilities… two in eastern Idaho, one in the Magic Valley, and there’s one out here in Kuna,” said Little. “It is imperative for them to be successful that they have modern efficient high through put laboratories. So, this is a big part of the add on, the added value to the state of Idaho. Whether it's the dairy industry, the cattle industry, or the sheep industry, this is very critical that we have this facility.”

“It is really night and day,” said Dan Salmi, ISDA Laboratory Bureau Chief. “Our old facility, you know we’re talking about 60 years old. We didn’t have any ability to bring any kind of large samples in there. We didn’t have any necropsy facility. The old lab didn’t have any office space, so all the scientists would be sitting basically right next to their work. Which in today’s world that’s not a very safe way to conduct science, so now we have more square footage, about 30% more square footage, a much safer environment and everything is just laid out much, much more efficiently,” said Salmi. “We got feedback from all of our scientists, and they were able to just identify their exact needs and how things need to be laid out and we’re all just very excited to about moving in there,” said Salmi.

Idaho has nearly 3 million cattle, sheep, goats and horses and demand for testing has increased dramatically in recent years. ISDA says brucellosis sample testing has increased 854% since 2015.

“Not only do we have the additional square footage to increase our testing capacity in the animal health lab with brucellosis and trichomonas and all those animal diseases,” continued Salmi, “but our dairy lab is also located here so we probably have about 50% more square footage in our dairy lab, which is responsible for testing products around the state and training industry staff and their facilities to make sure that they’re processing everything properly according to FDA guidelines. And then right behind this wall is our plant pathology lab, and they test for any kind of crop disease; viral, fungal, bacterial, whatever… to ensure that Idaho’s crops are safe, safe for import, safe for export; for which we’re seeing a very large demand,” said Salmi.

The facility also has about a half-acre behind the building to add more office or lab space if needed in the future.

“You know animal disease monitoring is something that is very important to not only those of us who make our livelihood in that industry,” said Governor Otter, “but everybody else in the state of Idaho because of the nexus between animal health and human health. Early, efficient and accurate diagnosis is absolutely imperative for both the livestock and for the human health so I couldn’t be prouder. And the support we had from the legislature and the support we had from all the industry folks in agriculture was really critical, and this is really going to paint a bright path for the future of Idaho, for the great things that are taking place in animal agriculture in Idaho,” said Little.

For the voice of Idaho Agriculture, I’m Paul Boehlke.