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KLUMB: All about ag

Welcome to this, the halfway point of the 92nd legislative session. Many issues have been the subject of debates, but today I'd like to talk about SB 172.

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Welcome to this, the halfway point of the 92nd legislative session. Many issues have been the subject of debates, but today I'd like to talk about SB 172.

It is an act to authorize the South Dakota Building Authority to provide for the construction of and improvements to the State Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory and infrastructure at South Dakota State University. This is a topic of much interest to me as an ag producer and it should be for anyone who maintains a flock or herd of any animal or even if you have a pet that you love.

The ADRL is the foremost animal laboratory in our state. It is responsible for the detection and curing of any animal disease outbreak in our state. They provide an invaluable resource for our state's veterinarians. For example, if a farmer's herd exhibits signs of some unexplained illness or even if your pet contracts something that the local vet can't identify, they send samples to the ADRL. Since South Dakota has the highest number of people per capita who work with animals on a daily basis, the lab is constantly on the lookout for diseases that could be transmitted between humans and animals so as to better protect man and beast from each other. The lab is based on the campus at SDSU but is operated in partnership with the state, the ag industry and SDSU. The current facility was built in 1967 and remodeled in 1993.

Today, however, the building is aging and the devices that protect the people working with dangerous diseases in the lab are on the verge of failing. The laboratory leaders agriculture industry and state government have identified the laboratory as an area of critical interest. We are addressing the situation before we have the crisis of a building full of scientists and students exposed to a dangerous strain of some disease because of faulty equipment. The debate in the legislature will center on funding this laboratory expansion and upgrade.

Over the past several years the state has been earnestly paying off bonds so our credit is in amazing shape. There are basically two schools of thought on how to pay for the new laboratory. The first is to pay for it using a combination of state dollars, bonding, agricultural fee increases and a variety of other means (SB 172). The other idea is that the state pay for all of it using bonding authority and state funds. (SB 162). The total price tag is somewhere in the $50 million range and that's a lot of money. The good news is that is is one time dollars; the state will spend the money, build the building, and once completed it should continue to generate enough revenue from research, breakthroughs and vaccines to be largely self-sufficient, much like the current laboratory.

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I know there will be many discussions regarding the lab as we move forward into the second half of the session, just as there will be many discussions about many more issues. As a Legislature it's hard to not just be a reactionary branch of government; constantly reacting to crisis after crisis. This laboratory isn't a crisis, but it is close and I feel we're responding appropriately early to be able to keep this from becoming a crisis in the future.

Please keep in touch.

Joshua.klumb@sdlegislature.gov

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