ISDA Laboratory

An artist’s rendition of the new Diagnostic Laboratory in east Boise.

Construction of the $10 million Idaho State Department of Agriculture Diagnostic Laboratory is expected to start by late September and conclude about a year later in east Boise near ISDA headquarters.

Plans for the 18,450-square-foot building were to be submitted for city permits by early July and construction bids likely will be taken in August, said ISDA Laboratory Bureau Chief Dan Salmi and Lab Improvement Manager Wendy Loumeau. Pivot North Architecture, Boise, leads the design team.

Square footage was reduced from an envisioned 20,000 due to recent increases in construction costs, Salmi said. Gov. Brad Little and the 2019 Idaho Legislature approved $8 million from the state Permanent Building Fund and $2 million in dedicated funds from ISDA fees for services.

It will house ISDA animal health, plant pathology and dairy laboratories that now share space in the nearby Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Bureau of Laboratories building, constructed in 1965.

The current building’s age “has impacted a number of issues, resulting in costly repairs, and is unsuitable for future renovation to meet the growing needs of these laboratories,” Salmi said.

The laboratories in recent years tested more samples as the state’s crop diversification and cattle headcount increased, as did some regulatory requirements.

Test totals for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, included 9,723 for dairy products, 455,085 for animal health conditions such as brucellosis in cattle and 2,308 involving plant pathology. Dairy and animal tests increased from a year earlier.

“With Idaho’s ever-growing ag industry, having this resource to serve our cattle, dairy and farming industries locally will be a huge benefit,” Salmi said.

The new laboratory will be able to accommodate necropsies and other tests previously conducted at the University of Idaho Caine Veterinary Teaching Center. After UI closed the Caldwell facility several years ago, those tests were done in facilities in Utah and Washington, increasing turnaround times.

The new building “will allow for enough lab space to easily process several times our current sample volume,” Salmi said. “This is partly due to the efficient design of the facility.”

Loumeau said 82% of its space will be for laboratory use. That’s about 17 percentage points higher than some other states’ laboratories that ISDA evaluated during the design process. Reception and sample-receiving areas will be combined to increase efficiency.

The new building is designed to accommodate a future expansion on the state-owned, 2-acre site as well as future modifications to interior lab setups as industry needs change, she said.

No staffing changes are planned immediately, Salmi said. The laboratories employ 18 full-time staff, plus a couple of part-time personnel.

Site features are to include water-saving xeriscape and a pollinator-friendly selection of plants.

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