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The Idaho Legislature and Gov. Brad Little have approved $8 million for construction of a state Department of Agriculture pathology lab.

The funding is included in Senate Bill 1198, the $70.35 million appropriation to the state Permanent Building Fund for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Estimated cost of the 20,000-square-foot Agricultural Health Laboratory is $10 million, including $2 million in dedicated revenue from ISDA fees for services such as livestock disease testing.

It will accommodate recent and anticipated growth in demand, ISDA said. It will have about 50% more usable space than the current facility, a 1965 building shared with the state Department of Health and Welfare Bureau of Laboratories.

Growth of the lab’s mission reflects increased agricultural production in the state, ISDA communications officer Chanel Tewalt said.

ISDA Lab Bureau Chief Dan Salmi said demand for DNA tests to detect the bull-carried Cattle Trichomoniasis, associated with cows aborting pregnancies and becoming temporarily infertile, increased 44% in the most recent fiscal year. Dairy tests, including product-safety evaluations, rose 31%.

Brucellosis testing of pre-slaughter cattle is up about sixfold largely due to beef-processing capacity opening to fill a nearly decade-long void, he said.

The department’s lab started testing sheep and goats after the University of Idaho closed Caine Veterinary Teaching Center about 2 1/2 years ago. The tests are for conditions such as venereal diseases that can cause birth complications.

Salmi said demand for plant testing also has grown. Factors include increased requirements to ensure crops are disease-free as they move between countries.

Construction of the new lab is expected to start early next year and conclude in mid-2021. The state-owned site is north of the ISDA administration building on Old Penitentiary Road in Boise. The state Division of Public Works will oversee the project.

This article originally ran on capitalpress.com.

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