Montana cattle ranchers eager for new veterinary diagnostic lab
HELENA, Mont. (MAY 10, 2021) – Livestock producers around Montana are thrilled with the recent signing of House Bills (HB) 14 and 632 by Governor Greg Gianforte. Both bills included $26 million in funding for infrastructure investments to build a new Montana Department of Livestock’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
“Securing funding for a new facility was Montana Stockgrowers Assocaition’s (MSGA) number one priority this legislative session,” shared Jim Steinbiesser, MSGA President. “This facility is paramount in protecting the annual $2 billion cattle industry in our state. Not only does the veterinary diagnostic lab serve the cattle industry but also plays a key role in wildlife and public health safety.”
The current veterinary diagnostic lab is located in Bozeman on the Montana State University campus and was built in the early 1960’s. Due to the building’s age and increased maintenance, a need for a new facility has been growing in recent years. One of the primary functions of the lab includes surveillance of statewide animal samples and potential disease outbreaks. Without a state facility, samples would have to be sent out of state leading to difficulty in tracking potential issues.
Additionally, all designated surveillance area (DSA) testing occurs at the lab. More than 88,000 brucellosis tests were conducted in the past year to ensure no disease is transmitted outside of the DSA and allow for producers to conduct business at the speed of commerce.
“We appreciate the Department of Livestock’s efforts to work with stakeholders through all phases of the process. Our members appreciated the opportunity to provide comments and feedback during the planning process to ensure industry needs were met along with the department’s business needs,” added Steinbeisser.
This is a big win for the state as a whole. This project has taken years to prepare for and the department has been very strategic in their planning to get to this point. We would like to thank Governor Gianforte, the Board of Livestock, past board of livestock members Lila Taylor, John Scully, Brett DeBruckyer, and John Lehfeldt, the department’s staff, and the many legislators who have worked diligently to pursue securing the funding for this project.
–Montana Stockgrowers Association
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Drought stressed forages can be high in nitrates and may be potentially toxic to cattle. Photo credit Troy Walz.