By Matt Reese
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 16 to celebrate the start of construction on the new Ohio Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL). The ceremony brought Ohio’s leadership and agricultural commodity groups and stakeholders to the Reynoldsburg campus. Construction of the new laboratory also brings a name change, as the current title of Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) will be retired.
The 70,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility will include 40% more laboratory space and updated bio-security measures. A more energy-efficient building will also accommodate dozens of new staff members. The Capital Budget signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine last summer allocates $72 million for the new OVDL.
“It’s a great day for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. We provide testing for our livestock industry and the building that is being replaced is way out of date. This new facility is going to take us to the next level. Currently in Ohio, about 30% of the tests done throughout our state are done here and the rest are sent out of state,” said Brian Baldridge, ODA Director. “This is a great opportunity to really take this back to the next level and bring that workload back in and get it done here at home.”
The current laboratory provides regulatory testing support for disease control programs and diagnostic laboratory services for veterinarians, livestock producers, and agribusinesses within and beyond Ohio. It conducts more than 452,000 tests a year, which breaks down to 1,738 tests a day, 217 tests an hour. The current lab and building, opened in 1961, has outgrown the testing capacity needed for the state’s growers and producers.
The new building also offers the chance to honor an Ohioan who contributed immensely to animal health and food safety and security. The OVDL will be housed in the Dr. Tony Forshey Animal Health Building. Forshey had a passion and commitment to agriculture and animal health and is well known in the agricultural community for his work and dedication. He served as the State Veterinarian from 2006 until his passing in 2021.
“His priorities were animal health and industry safety as a whole,” Baldridge said. “This will be part of his legacy in providing those services from the Department of Agriculture on the regulatory side of things — just a tremendous tribute to his vision for this.”
Construction on the building is set to begin in December, with an estimated completion date in 2026.
“Our livestock industry and agriculture community has advocated tirelessly for this much needed enhancement to the services we provide at the Ohio Department of Agriculture,” Baldridge said. “We applaud the DeWine-Husted administration and the Ohio legislature for advocating for this cutting-edge technology as we continue to protect livestock and the citizens of this great state.”