- freeimages.com/123dan321The newest federal budget includes $45 million for the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Georgia.
The latest federal budget includes $45 million in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL) in Athens, Georgia.
The money is part of the $155 million plan that will eventually be needed to modernize the facility, which includes the addition of 100,000 square feet of space.
According to the USDA, a review was done of the Agricultural Research Service facilities in 2012 that highlighted facilities with aging infrastructure and identified the SEPRL as the highest priority recommended for modernization. The laboratory has facilities that were built in 1964 and 1976, and those facility's limitations now prevent critical, cutting-edge research from being conducted.
Construction of a new facility would allow USDA scientists to more adequately address emerging or exotic poultry diseases that threaten not only the nation's poultry industry, but the health of American consumers, the agency said at the time.
The poultry laboratory has conducted research over the past 20 years on exotic poultry diseases and has the only USDA program that provides research support to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration on diseases like avian influenza, Newcastle disease and West Nile Virus, according to the USDA.