The N.C. Board of Agriculture on Feb. 16 approved a new fee for rapid avian influenza tests conducted by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The fee, to be paid by the commercial poultry industry, will help the department continue to meet the growing demand for testing. The test will continue to be free for owners of backyard and hobby flocks.
Dr. Sarah Mason, the department’s director of poultry health programs, told board members the fee is necessary because federal funding that supports avian influenza tests has remained flat for several years while laboratory costs and the test load have increased.
The department expects to implement the fee in April and is also seeking additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offset costs. The exact amount of the fee will be determined by the amount of federal funding awarded, but will be between $6 and $12 per test. An analysis by Mason showed that other Southern states charge as much as $38 for an avian influenza test.
At the meeting, the board also approved a request from the N.C. Farm Bureau, N.C. State Grange and N.C. Agricultural Foundation to hold a referendum on continuing the Nickels for Know-How program. The program supports agricultural research and is funded through an assessment of 15 cents per ton of commercial feed and fertilizer purchased by farmers. The foundation plans to hold the referendum Nov. 17.
About the Board of Agriculture
The Board of Agriculture is a policymaking body that adopts regulations for many of the programs administered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Members are appointed by the governor. The commissioner of agriculture serves as chairman of the board.