IOWA: Vilsack helps dedicate $464 million USDA facility
Posted: April 21st, 2010 - 8:55am
Source: Ames Tribune
U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack led a delegation of Iowa congressional members from both parties Monday at the dedication of the final component of the $464 million National Centers for Animal Health in Ames.
Jointly serving the U.S. livestock industry from a single campus, the center provides laboratories, offices and space for administration and animals, consolidating three USDA units that previously operated separately in Ames.
The consolidated units include the National Animal Disease Center (operated by the USDA Agricultural Research Service), the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Center for Veterinary Biologics (operated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service).
The ceremony took place in the atrium of the 500,000-square-foot NCAH Consolidated Laboratory and administrative facilities, completed in April 2009.
Also in attendance were U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; 4th Dist. U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ames; 3rd Dist. U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines; and members of the Story County Board of Supervisors and the Ames City Council.
About 350 people sat on the atrium floor while scores of USDA workers watched from surrounding balconies.
Vilsack said many lives will be affected by the new facility, including:
• U.S. farmers and ranchers who depend on the work of the center to maintain international markets for livestock.
• Taxpayers who Vilsack said would benefit because three USDA agencies had decided to “combine, coordinate and collaborate” their services.
• The economy of Ames and Mid-Iowa, with the presence of some 700 employees who will live and work in the area, cooperate with Iowa State University and work with U.S. livestock producers and related industries.
Molly Jahn, USDA undersecretary for research, said NCAH is “the world’s most sophisticated facility to support research on animal health.”
Latham said the project dates back to 1998 and through several congressional appropriations cycles.
When Congress faced a decision in 2000 to either improve the existing site or move elsewhere, “there were some efforts to get this facility to move to either Mississippi or near Texas A&M University,” Latham said.
He said important steps in the funding process took place while former U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle was with the federal Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.
Ames City Manager Steve Schainker said the city and the Ames Economic Development Commission played their roles in a project that required “the cooperation of local, state and national players.”
He said the city is providing the National Centers for Animal Health with some of its electrical power and all of its water and sewer utilities.