USDA officials including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack were on hand for the April 19 dedication of the final piece of the National Centers for Animal Health (NCAH) in Ames, IA.

The new center houses laboratories, offices, animal space and administrative areas for some of the nation’s top animal health scientists.

The dedication completes a long-term project to consolidate three USDA units at Ames with 700 employees, providing a cost savings to taxpayers.

“The new NCAH will help create jobs and economic opportunity in America’s rural communities by supporting livestock producers across the country,” says Vilsack. “This new facility will not only save taxpayers money, but will help the men and women who work here in Ames provide the critical advancements needed to maintain the success of the industry.”

Facilities housed at NCAH include the National Animal Disease Center, operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS); the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Center for Veterinary Biologics, operated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). All of the units support the livestock industry by conducting research, diagnostics and training, testing vaccines and evaluating veterinary biological products.

Last year, APHIS and ARS scientists worked around the clock to test the first samples of the novel H1N1 virus, leading to the important finding that infected pigs did not carry any of the virus in their tissues and confirming the safety of the food supply.

ARS and APHIS staffs protect food sources from all over the world and preserve public health by minimizing human infectious diseases and food safety pathogens that might be transmitted from animals or their products.

Learn more about these agencies at www.usda.gov.