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SDSU Animal Disease Research & Diagnostic Laboratory

Funding solution at hand for new state animal disease lab

News Staff - February 22, 2017

PIERRE, SD – It’s not often that ag related industries and organizations all agree on something.  But that’s what happened at the state capitol this week when aggies put their heads together to find funding for a new animal disease laboratory at South Dakota State University.

In 2016, a request went to the Governor for $10 million in one-time funding for the project.  The state had already spent $4.5 million in planning, design and preliminary work.  The total cost of the new lab was estimated at $68 million. It was all mostly on track.

And then the economy slowed and by the Governor’s December budget address, supporters knew the project was in jeopardy.

Officials with various state agencies  proposed raising fees on a variety of agricultural products to help pay for the lab.  But ag groups strongly resisted, saying the increases wouldn’t be equally distributed across all industries. And more opposition came in the face of the current slump in commodity prices.

House Republican Leader Lee Qualm of Platte saved the day with a proposed shifting of $7 million of agricultural property tax relief into a special projects fund instead.

The $7 million was part of the half-cent sales tax increase approved by the Legislature last year.

Building the new laboratory will require a stream of about $3 million-plus annually to cover $50.1 million of bonds for its construction, an amount lower than the original $68 million in estimated building costs.

According to Governor’s aide Nathan Sanderson, the alternate approach offered by Qualm has a broad base of support. There will need to be other pieces of technical legislation to implement the plan according to Qualm and Sanderson

The new lab will be a two-story addition to the existing animal research building, according to SDSU facilities architect Les Olive. The plan includes a biohazard level-three area. The current lab will be renovated after the new facility is built.   

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