Call legislators

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

To the editor,

I would like to inform everyone regarding our Montana State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (MVDL) that is managed through the Board of Livestock. The Diagnostic Lab is located on the MSU Campus in Bozeman, Montana. The lab is where producers and veterinarians send all the specimens for animal testing of disease in our state. We currently perform all livestock testing, as well as all Brucellosis testing of bison in the designated surveillance area (DSA) around Yellowstone National Park. We perform all rabies testing of both wild and domestic animals, which may have been exposed to rabies. Also, we have taken on the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing in deer in partnership with Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Our lab performs state of the art testing and we continue to increase and expand our test offerings. Our State Diagnostic lab is a very important and integral aspect of one of our biggest industries, agriculture. Not only does the lab perform vital testing for our producers, it also serves to ensure the bio-security health for the state by being able to perform testing rapidly. This quick testing offers Montana the ability to identify, control, and manage disease if they appear in the state.

While the Diagnostic Lab continues to provide necessary tests with quick turnaround time, the building itself is in a state of decline. There have been several inspections regarding the old building over the last years. If we don’t get a new building, we may likely have to shut down the lab, which would be an incredible loss for our State.

The Board of Livestock has been working diligently to move forward with the project of constructing a new building for some years now. We have worked with architects to design a new building and get the blueprints completed. We have saved millions of dollars over the years to help pay for this new lab. We have also partnered with another state agency, the Department of Agriculture, to build an “inclusive, multidepartment” lab.

Now we are asking the legislature to help pay for part of the lab through general fund dollars. We feel strongly that this isn’t just an agriculture issue for producers alone. It is also a Biosecurity issue for the state as well.

I am imploring everyone, to contact your legislators and ask them to support the funding of the Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. This is your tax dollars and your per capita fees working directly for Ag producers and residents alike.

If we don’t get the funding now, we run the risk of losing this incredible resource, the jobs it provides, and the quick response we need to fight disease, if needed. If we lose the lab, our producers, veterinarians, and FWP would have to stand the expense of sending specimens out of state for testing.

Our lab is growing in testing capacity. The new lab would be situated near the DSA, supporting bio-security, and jobs. We need to keep our lab! If you don’t know who your legislator is, please go to leg.mt.gov to find your representatives. You can also call 406-444-4900.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Wendy Palmer;

Board of Livestock Vice Chair

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