In his FY 2005 budget, President Bush has asked Congress to allocate $178 million to complete renovation of the Agriculture Department's new National Centers for Animal Health in Ames, Iowa.
The Ames complex is the USDA's flagship laboratory for large animal research and diagnosis. It includes the National Animal Disease Center, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and Center for Veterinary Biologics.
Since 1995, the AVMA has supported congressional funding for the expansion of activities at the Ames facilities. The AVMA reaffirmed its support in 2003.
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said the facility is more important than ever before, considering recent animal disease threats. For instance, tests conducted at the NVSL in December 2003 confirmed the nation's first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
A 2001 report to Congress outlined options for updating and renovating the complex, now referred to as the USDA National Centers for Animal Health. "When completed, the centers will become the most modern and best-equipped animal disease research facility in the world," Veneman has said.
The $178 million would be the final installment on the $460 million needed to fully refurbish the facilities. Veneman anticipates the project will be finished by the endo of 2007 if Congress approves the funds.
When completed, the National Centers for Animal Health would include nearly 1 million square feet of space that will be secure and energy-efficient, and provide state-of-the-art capabilities for research and diagnosis.