July 9, 2007 — /ENS/ — AMES, IA — Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation helped dedicate a new USDA high-containment large animal facility on July 3 that will host several research facilities in one location. Construction lasted more than three years and cost some $85 million. The new building encompasses more than 155,000 sq. feet and will house cattle, bison, elk, deer, reindeer, sheep, and hogs.
Employees in the new facility will contribute to the $100 billion U.S. livestock industry by conducting research, diagnostics, and training, as well as testing vaccines and evaluating veterinary biological products.
“Construction of this state-of-the-art animal health center is an important milestone in USDA’s efforts to provide first-class animal health services,” says Johanns. “The work here has generated tremendous benefits for livestock, agricultural workers, and consumers.”
The high-containment designation means the building is designed for optimal safety and security because the scientists will work with a variety of endemic, zoonotic, and foreign animal diseases in what is called Biological Safety Level 3, BSL3, space. This includes features such as airtight walls, filtered air, and liquid waste treatment technology.
Research will be conducted on the dreaded transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, such as mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease.
The center consolidates three units within two agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It will be used by the USDA’s National Animal Disease Center, which conducts research concerning animal health and diseases with an agricultural impact. This center is part of the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service.
The National Veterinary Services Laboratories, which are part of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will utilize the new building. This lab serves as a national and international reference laboratory and provides diagnostic services, reagents and training.
And APHIS’ Center for Veterinary Biologics, which regulates vaccines, bacterins, antisera, diagnostic kits, and other biological products for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of animal diseases, will also be housed in the new building.
The new facility is the second component of the multi-phase, $460 million project. A consolidated lab and a low-containment animal facility are still under construction.
By 2009, when the project is expected to conclude, the Ames complex will be one of the largest animal health centers in the world with 1 million sq. feet of laboratory and research facilities.