Funding shortage forces closure of Fresno lab

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Budget shortfalls have caused the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System to close its Fresno location effective July 19.

The laboratory system, operated by the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine since 1987, provides diagnostic services for veterinarians and animal producers in California's agricultural heartland. Closure of the nearly 60-year-old Fresno laboratory will shift diagnostic testing to other facilities in the laboratory system, according to a May 18 UC-Davis press release.

Dean Bennie I. Osburn said reduced state funding combined with rising costs associated with managing a sophisticated laboratory system has left it struggling to maintain services. Compounded by the weak economy, the dire fiscal situation has left the system with a projected funding deficit of more than $2 million in 2009-2010.

The laboratory system has its reference laboratory at UC-Davis and branch laboratories in Turlock, Fresno, Tulare, and San Bernardino. The network of diagnostic laboratories receives approximately 80 percent of its funding from a contract with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The remainder comes from fee-for-service testing provided to veterinarians and agricultural producers.

The laboratory system has contacted area veterinarians and agricultural producers via e-mail, alerting them to the Fresno laboratory's impending closure and informing them of plans for continued diagnostic services.