Iowa Congressman Tom Latham says nearly 60-million federal tax dollars are headed to the U-S-D-A’s National Animal Disease Center in Ames, completing a huge project to modernize the facility. With this last installment, a total of four-hundred-62 million dollars will have been committed to upgrading and expanding the center, which will now be known as the National Anmial Health Center.
“It’s been a long-term project and one that’s extremely important for our country,” Latham says.
Latham says the facilities hadn’t been upgraded since the 1950s, and with new challenges posed by diseases like BSE — Mad Cow Disease — and the possibility of an anthrax attack, it was time to make sure the place was cutting-edge. “This will really make Iowa the center for animal health research for the entire world,” Latham says. “It puts us on the level in animal health with what the C-D-C (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta is for human health.”
He predicts the expanded facility will spur development of spinoff businesses. Latham was at the White House last Thursday when President Bush signed the bill into law that included that last bit of money for upgrading the center. Latham, who is a top-ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, began six years ago to press congress to come up with the money to make the improvements.
Latham says the center is important for animal health and food safety, but the conditions scientists were working in back in 1999 were unacceptable. Latham says the federal money has helped place the facility on the “front line of America’s defense against animal diseases.” The U-S-D-A first opened a lab in Ames in 1905 to respond to a cholera outbreak in U.S. swine herds. In 1961, the lab was designated as the National Animal Disease Center.