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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Agriculture Groups Support the Pandemic Center, Public Health Lab in Stillwater

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 18:28:18 CST

Oklahoma Agriculture Groups Support the Pandemic Center, Public Health Lab in Stillwater The Oklahoma State Department of Health, Gov. Kevin Stitt, federal, state and private industry leadership, cut the ribbon on the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE). OPCIE will be the state’s frontline of defense against future biosecurity-threatening diseases. The facility will be located in Stillwater, leveraging Oklahoma’s rural and urban assets to benefit public health. The new center will help unite Oklahoma’s leading animal and human health experts from Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, as well as numerous other public and private entities, to enhance and improve the state’s pandemic and public health preparedness. The new lab will include a human diagnostic/public health laboratory, a genetic biorepository, and a multi-disciplinary basic science lab for human, animal, plant and food-related bioterrorism research.

A coalition of Oklahoma’s agricultural leaders united in their support for the creation and relocation of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE).

Scott Blubaugh, President - American Farmers & Ranchers“Covid-19 threatened the health of our state and our nation, and also served as a warning about the vulnerability of our food system,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “The last few months have shown that quick, accurate testing for both human and animal disease is a vital part of our nation’s security. OPCIE is a necessary and welcomed investment in the future of our state and national food supply chain. It will play an important role in keeping food on the table for millions of Americans. Oklahoma State University is a hub of agricultural research and animal and human health innovation, making Stillwater a logical place for the Public Health Lab. OPCIE will make collaboration between OSU and the state

RJ Gray, President and CEO, Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council “The OPCIE is an incredible step forward in placing Oklahoma as a national leader in human, animal, and plant health. The work of this innovative new center will benefit all Oklahomans through advancements in disease preparedness and response and food supply security.”

Mike Weeks, President, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association “Oklahoma, as a largely rural and agricultural state, is uniquely positioned to capture the benefits of animal science insights that can improve human public health. Animal health and medicine have been crucial to our state's understanding and response to the pandemic. Choosing to relocate the Public Health Lab and establish the OPCIE in rural Oklahoma will allow us to leverage this expertise as we plan for the future public health response globally.”

Harvey Schroeder, Executive Director, Chairman, Oklahoma Cotton Council “The health of rural Oklahoma is critical to the agricultural industry. The OPCIE will combine public health and research to ensure the best and most up-to-date health information is available to our rural citizens. Oklahoma cotton growers support this state-of-the-art center, which will help increase testing capacity and public health response for future pandemics.”

Rodd Moesel, President, Oklahoma Farm Bureau “By combining our state’s best resources in agriculture, animal and human medicine, food safety, and public health testing and preparedness, the Oklahoma Pandemic Center of Innovation and Excellence will ensure every sector of the Oklahoma economy – including agriculture – is prepared to protect against and respond to future public health emergencies,” said Rodd Moesel, OKFB president. “With many viral pandemics originating in animals, the center’s location in Stillwater will help integrate leading animal science research into our state’s efforts to innovatively prevent and combat future disease outbreaks across our nation and our world.”

Jeff Hickman, President and CEO, Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association --On behalf of the Oklahoma Sorghum Association and Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association “As Oklahoma agriculture is one of the leading drivers of our state’s economy, it is critical that we have state-ofthe- art technologies to protect our food supply and our grain and seed trades from bioterrorism. OPCIE will help Oklahoma agribusiness leaders meet the challenges we face and ensure Oklahoma agriculture’s best days are still ahead of us.”

Terry Chapman, Executive Director, Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association “Oklahoma has long been an epicenter for the livestock industry, and the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence makes us a national leader in protecting both human and animal health. This center is a tremendous asset to our livestock industry and all Oklahomans.”

Nikki Snider, Interim Director, Oklahoma Pork Council “Oklahoma’s pork industry appreciates the leadership and investment by our state that made the OPCIE and relocation of the Public Health Lab possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the need for continued work in preparing for human and animal health threats and the importance of ensuring our safe, reliable food supply. The research, collaboration, and resources the Center will provide are crucial to disease response now and in the future. As our industry, our state, and our nation look to Oklahoma’s pork producers to continue providing a wholesome product to feed their families, the work of the OPCIE will be an important asset.”

Marvin Childers, President, Oklahoma Poultry Federation “This investment in pandemic research and human, animal, and plant health is an investment in Oklahomans and our food supply. Oklahoma’s poultry producers look forward to the advancements resulting from the OPCIE and commend the efforts to position Oklahoma as a national leader in disease preparedness and health of our people and animals.” As one of the state’s largest industries, agriculture is vitally important to the strength and stability of Oklahoma’s economy. Oklahoma’s agriculture industry is united and supports the relocation of the state’s public health laboratory to Stillwater, as well as the creation of OPCIE. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of state



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