The Maryland Department of Agriculture hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 3 at the site of its new Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Salisbury, Md.
“The construction of a new Salisbury Animal Health Lab has been a priority for our administration,” Maryland secretary of agriculture Joe Bartenfelder said. “This state-of-the-art facility will be our first line of defense in preventing and controlling infectious diseases in livestock and poultry. Agriculture is critical to Maryland’s economy, and this will enhance our ability to promote animal health while securing the safety and continued success of the industry.”
The new Salisbury Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory will replace the department’s original lab, which was built in 1953 and is in need of major renovations, the department said. At 19,178 sq. ft., the new facility will provide larger work areas, public meeting and training facilities, two necropsy suites, a new incinerator and a Biosafety Level-3 laboratory for advanced diagnostic work.
In addition to expanding the lab’s capacity and capabilities, the new building will be LEED Silver certified and will have hookups for natural gas to improve the building’s energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. Construction is expected to be completed in March 2021.
“I am happy to be here today as we celebrate a major step forward for the animal health program,” Maryland state veterinarian Dr. Michael Odian said. “This project is the culmination of work that began with my predecessor, Dr. Michael Radebaugh, and our outstanding team at the Salisbury Animal Health Lab. This new facility will bolster our program with the resources it needs to continue striving for excellence in our diagnostic services.”
The department works closely with state and federal counterparts as well as private and commercial veterinarians to protect Maryland’s agriculture industry against infectious diseases like avian influenza and equine infectious anemia. Specializing in poultry disease, the new Salisbury lab will play a critical role in regional efforts to safeguard the health of millions of birds on the Delmarva peninsula.
“Delmarva’s $3.4 billion chicken community relies on the Salisbury Animal Health Lab, along with Lasher Lab in Delaware, to help us constantly monitor the health of farmers’ flocks for any sign of disease,” said Holly Porter, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. “It’s dedicated teamwork that brings farmers, chicken companies and these labs together to keep our food safe.”