Nearly $90 million has been set aside in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal to build a new and improved livestock health lab in Turlock.

The $88.6 million project would construct a 41,000 square foot lab at 830 Dianne Drive near Highway 99 on land already owned by the state, and would replace the Turlock branch of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System already located at Fulkerth and Soderquist roads.

The current facility is just over 5,000 square feet and only examines poultry, while the new lab would additionally serve livestock like swine, cattle, horses and more. Turlock’s lab is one of four CAHFS branches, with the others located in Davis, Tulare and San Bernardino, which are all part of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Lab employees seek causes of death from livestock, as well as test blood and more from live animals treated by veterinarians. 

“I think it’s great that they’re going to build it. This facility is desperately needed, especially with our livestock and poultry industries that we have in this area,” said Tom Orvis, governmental affairs directors for the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, noting that many with livestock currently have to drive to Tulare or Davis. “It’s a great, central location…to have something multispecies in the heart of an area that still has poultry but also now has a lot of dairy, goats and other animals like that is an excellent thing to have.”

While the Governor’s proposed budget will have to be passed for the project to go through, the legislature has already given the go-ahead twice in previous votes for the purchase of the land and planning of the facility. According to the budget request, the lab could be complete by 2024.

Poultry and cattle were two of the top 10 agricultural commodities in Stanislaus County in 2019, according to the agricultural commissioner’s most-recent report, valued at $625 million between chicken, turkey and cattle/calves. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, with assistance from the Department of General Services, is currently preparing an environmental impact report and is seeking input from interested individuals, public agencies and other parties regarding the scope of the report. 

A public meeting will be held on Zoom from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. March 16 for the CDFA to receive input. To join the meeting, visit the Zoom link (https://zoom.us/j/9940443602) with Webinar ID 994 0443 6022. The meeting can also be accessed by telephone at 1-253-215-8782.