The new Breathitt Veterinary Center uses state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to provide vital services for Kentucky’s livestock and poultry producers, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Thursday in a dedication ceremony and open house for the new laboratory.

“As large and small animal agriculture continues to play an important role in the economic health of Kentucky, having a facility like this gives us a distinct advantage,” Commissioner Quarles said. “The Breathitt Veterinary Center helps protect our industry from foreign animal disease and provides diagnostic services to enable producers and veterinarians to care for their animals. Kentucky’s investment in this new laboratory will pay off many times over.”

Commissioner Quarles was joined by Governor Matt Bevin; David Beck, executive vice president of Kentucky Farm Bureau; Dr. Robert O. Davies, president of Murray State University (MSU), which oversees the center; Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at MSU; Dr. Debbie Reed, director of the Breathitt Veterinary Center; and other dignitaries.

The new Breathitt Veterinary Center is a 77,000-square-foot facility with 53,000 square feet of diagnostic space and the only Biosafety Level III suite in Kentucky. The center is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians and is part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

The new facility replaces the original Breathitt Veterinary Center that was dedicated in 1967. It was under the Kentucky Department of Agriculture until it was transferred to Murray State University in 1978.

The 2013-2018 Strategic Plan for Kentucky Agriculture, a product of the Kentucky Agricultural Council, called for upgrading the Breathitt Veterinary Center as one of its top five priority policy actions.

Sales of livestock and poultry generated more than $3.3 billion in cash receipts to Kentucky farmers in 2015, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported. Poultry and eggs accounted for nearly $1.2 billion in farm cash receipts, making it Kentucky’s leading agricultural commodity. The 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey said that Kentucky’s world-famous horse industry totaled $1.1 billion in equine-related sales. Kentucky is the leading beef cattle state east of the Mississippi River with more than 1 million beef cows, and the Commonwealth also is a major producer of hogs, sheep, and goats.

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