Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Strengthening Florida’s livestock industry


State’s Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory modernized

FLORIDA’S FARMERS AND RANCHERS face a variety of threats, including pests, diseases, and market changes. In fact, the survival of Florida’s 500-year-old agriculture industry has hinged on its ability to prevent, diagnose, and respond to crises. Now, with an upgrade and modernization of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (BADDL) in Kissimmee, the state will be better equipped to prevent and, if need be, respond to crises.

Florida’s livestock industry is all too familiar with national threats that have the potential to cripple the multibillion-dollar industry, especially with recent challenges like tuberculosis, avian influenza, and equine West Nile Virus. One way the department works with Florida’s cattlemen, horse enthusiasts, and other livestock producers is to provide disease detection services via our Bronson laboratory.

Originally built in 1957, BADDL helps protect Florida from animal pests and diseases that could have major economic and public health consequences. The lab conducts an array of tests and diagnoses of infectious diseases in animals, including livestock postmortem examinations to identify the cause of death. However, after a comprehensive review of the lab, we identified several areas that needed immediate improvement as we continue to focus on efficiency, effectiveness, and customer service.

In the half century of helping Florida’s livestock industry overcome a number of devastating diseases and pests, BADDL had become outdated and needed to be modernized. To address this, we hired a top-notch laboratory director in August of last year and secured $7.5 million for construction of a new, modern building where the majority of testing will occur.

To improve quality assurance standards, a quality-management software program was recently implemented. The department continues to work with industry and partner agencies to ensure that BADDL meets their disease testing and diagnostic needs. At the industry’s request, additional tests have been recently added, including testing for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer, Scrapie in small ruminants, Trichomoniasis in cattle, and Mycoplasma in poultry.

For nearly five centuries, livestock have played a key role in Florida’s economy and culture. From beef cattle and horses, to poultry and dairy herds, the state’s livestock industry generates billions of dollars in economic impact annually and helps to feed our growing population and more than 100 million visitors a year. With improvements to the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and its ability to respond to animal health crises, we can help ensure that livestock remain a part of Florida’s economy and culture for generations to come.

CREDITS

article by DR. MIKE SHORT
USDA photo by GAIL HENDRICKS

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST: Dr. Mike Short is the state veterinarian and director of the Division of Animal Industry for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, says, “Dr. Short is a proven leader in the areas of livestock disease prevention, control and eradication and will lead our efforts to safeguard Florida’s agriculture industry and its livestock.”