Dept. of Agriculture awarded $1.04 million lab testing grant

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Dept. of Agriculture awarded $1.04 million lab testing grant
West Virginia agriculture is getting a boost, thanks to a grant from the USDA. (Photo courtesy Elaine Casap)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has awarded the W.Va. Department of Agriculture $1.04 million for surveillance testing, new equipment, and researching contaminants in human and animal food.

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The department is one of only nine in the country to receiving this funding for chemistry development, according to Kent Leonhardt, Commissioner of Agriculture.

“Department staff continues to find ways to support our agricultural industries, as well as enhance the WVDA’s overall mission," Leonhardt said.

"This grant will bring much-needed services to West Virginia. Our laboratory staff continues to show they are one of the best in the country.”

The monies will fund nine lab projects, which include collecting and testing samples of baby food for lead and arsenic, collecting and testing animal food and canned pet food for Salmonella, and testing samples of dry cereal for filth and decomposition.

The grant will also pay for the purchase of two, large pieces of specialized equipment—a whole-genome sequencing instrument and MagPix equipment for allergen testing.

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WVDA Regulatory Division Director Amie Minor said the Laboratory Flexible Funding Model grant is particularly valuable.

“The LFFM grant is of particular importance to the READ laboratories by offering funding for new equipment and support for two new programs to the state of West Virginia, WGS for foodborne isolates and food allergen testing," Minor said.

"We are also thrilled to enhance our surveillance programs for human and animal foods and provide a safer food supply to our citizens."

The WVDA Regulatory Division will be eligible for millions more in LFFM grants subject to availability and satisfactory progress of the current projects, she said.

For more information on the grant, contact Minor at aminor@wvda.us or 304-558-2227.

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