Monday, October 2, 2023

USDA celebrates the opening of its new poultry research facility in Georgia

Photo/M. A. Mortenson Co. The USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., features a high biocontainment laboratory for safe research on exotic viruses of poultry.

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ATHENS, Ga. — The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory opened its new research facility during a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 4 at the U.S. National Poultry Research Center here.

The new research facility will increase the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory staff’s capabilities to respond to highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks as they provide research information for eradication and control, as well as data for control of Newcastle disease, reoviruses, infectious bursal disease, Marek’s disease, and other exotic and emerging viruses of poultry and other birds.

Key leaders including USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and USDA’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, spoke about the importance of this kind of infrastructure investment in poultry research during the ceremony.

“This modernized facility will serve as the largest poultry research complex in the United States, housing the largest number of researchers and staff dedicated to preventing, discovering, and solving poultry health problems,” Jacobs-Young said.

The Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory is a key part of the U.S. National Poultry Research Center and a crucial asset to addressing poultry viral diseases at the state, national, and international levels, the department added.

The laboratory has been at the forefront of developing the molecular test used in the United States and globally to diagnose avian influenza and Newcastle disease, developing vaccines for emergency use and commercial application, tracking the virus movement and spread, and understanding how to break the transmission cycle, USDA said.

“When pathogens and diseases threaten the health of poultry, animal health experts in government and industry know that Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory researchers have the knowledge and expertise to quickly find answers and develop solutions,” Dr. Simon Liu, acting ARS administrator, said.

The ceremony also highlighted the state and local community’s support for poultry research.

Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black gave the invocation. U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop Jr., Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice, Mayor Kelly Girtz of Athens-Clarke County, and Mike Giles of the Georgia Poultry Federation also provided remarks during the ceremony.

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