A gift of $25,000 by the Cuming County Livestock Feeders Association will be a big boost to the UNL Veterinary Diagnostic Center building project. The planned new facility will help ensure livestock producers and others have access to the best available laboratory diagnostics, research, education and outreach services, says Ron Coufal, president of the Cuming County group.
The gift, made to the University of Nebraska Foundation, supports plans to replace an aging facility that no longer meets modern laboratory standards. The new facility planned to replace it will enable the university to better serve veterinarians, livestock producers, public health officials and others in Nebraska and around the country who depend on its services, says Alan Doster, professor and director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Center.
Recognizing the state's need for a new center, the Nebraska Legislature committed to provide $41.5 million in funding through the Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative once $4.15 million is first raised from private sources. To date more than $3 million of private and other support has been raised, Doster says, and the university hopes to launch the project before the conclusion of 2014.
Coufal says his organization is proud to invest in a new veterinary diagnostic facility for the state. "Cuming County is the largest agriculture producing county and helps Nebraska continue its number one status in the beef industry," he adds. "It is only fitting that our association help Nebraska continue that ranking in all areas of livestock production, as 86% of agriculture revenue in the county comes from livestock with beef being the largest contributor."
According to Doster, "This investment made by the Cuming County Livestock Feeders Association will be well used and will help ensure we're able to provide a high level of service to livestock producers and veterinarians in Nebraska and across the country. We also appreciate their help in bringing attention to the need for a new state facility."
Built in 1975, the Veterinary Diagnostic Center on UNL's East Campus has become outdated. According to an accreditation review last year by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, there is a need for facility upgrades and additional space to continue its responsiveness in the development and implementation of new technologies and to address biosafety and biosecurity concerns, or the center may face loss of accreditation.
The center provides testing services to professionals and organizations across the nation and is considered a national center of excellence for testing of certain diseases in livestock, which is important for keeping them healthy, Doster says.
In addition to serving livestock producers, the Veterinary Diagnostic Center provides training for large animal veterinarians, a profession currently in demand in Nebraska. The center provides these future doctors with hands-on experience by studying specimens from current, real life animal cases.
University faculty instructors and researchers conduct tests and perform research in the center that impacts agriculture across the country.
The center is also a diagnostic resource for most small animal veterinarians in Nebraska who use the laboratory's services for quick turnaround and accurate testing of diseases specific to family pets.
Public health officials in Nebraska even rely on the Veterinary Diagnostic Center to help protect the health of humans through diagnostic testing of certain diseases that can transfer from animals to humans, such as rabies, West Nile, H1N1 and others, Doster says. The center provides disease surveillance, develops new diagnostic testing methods, conducts infectious disease research and supports continuing education programs.
The gift from Cuming County Livestock Feeders Association also provides support to the University of Nebraska's current fundraising initiative, the "Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities," and a top priority to increase support for agriculture and life sciences.
Support for the Veterinary Diagnostic Center initiative has also been received by numerous other generous organizations and associations, including the Nebraska Cattlemen, Boone-Nance Cattleman, South Central Cattlemen, Exeter Feeders and Breeders, Thayer County Livestock Feeders, Saunders County Livestock Association, Morrill County Cattlemen and Bridgeport Affiliate.