Governor cuts ribbon on new Breathitt Vet Center
(First Appeared in the May 18 issue of The Farmer’s Pride)
By Ray Bowman
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says he grew up a 4-H kid.
“I’ve probably raised more hogs and chickens than any Governor in America,” Bevin said. “I’m quite confident in that fact.”
The Governor’s comments came in remarks he delivered at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new 77,000 square foot Breathitt Veterinary Center (BVC) near Hopkinsville, replacing its 44,000 square foot predecessor which opened in 1968. The new facility, under the oversight of Murray State University, boasts 53,000 square feet of diagnostic space and the only Biosafety Level III suite in Kentucky. The center is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians and is part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
Bevin told the overflow crowd attending the ceremony that his life-long association with agriculture makes it easy for him to appreciate the importance of the new animal health complex.
“When I was 17-years-old, I had an opportunity to go to Beltsville, Maryland,” the Governor reflected, referring to the USDA research facility there which he said was not dissimilar in nature to the new Breathitt Center. “It’s a profound memory for me, in appreciation of the power of how agriculture touches each and every one of our lives.”
Bevin thanked everyone who had a part in the project for their vision, passion and perseverance and their dedication to “getting things right.”
Even though the facility is just now coming into the public eye, it has been functional for a short time and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles pointed out in his remarks to the audience that the BVC had to hit the ground running with the recent outbreak of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza on a Christian County farm, the first appearance of the disease in the Commonwealth since 2009.
Quarles said he received a call from state veterinarian Robert Stout advising him that the virus had been discovered. “The second call I received was from this center saying, ‘we’ve got it under control.’ Fortunately, what used to be a bad scenario ended up being something minor, and that’s something we can all be thankful for. What a way to break in a new building.”
In 2008, $300,000 was designated for a feasibility study from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board (ADB) to get the ball rolling for the Breathitt Veterinary Center. The money came from tobacco settlement funds and the current executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy, which oversees the ADB, told the crowd that tobacco settlement dollars are still having a major impact on Kentucky agriculture.
“In 1998, when this money showed up, we had 46,000 tobacco farmers in Kentucky, and now we have 4,600,” Warren Beeler observed. “In 1998, cash receipts at farm gate were $3.7 billion, and tobacco was a fourth of that. Today, cash receipts are $6 billion and tobacco is less than 7%. It’s no coincidence. It’s Kentucky tobacco money helping farmer help themselves.”
David Beck, executive vice president of Kentucky Farm Bureau served as master of ceremonies for the event, and following comments from Dr. Robert O. Davies, president of Murray State University, Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at MSU, and Dr. Debbie Reed, director of the Breathitt Veterinary Center, Governor Bevin closed the ceremony by presenting a proclamation paying tribute to the new center.
The Governor and president Davies then snipped the ribbon on the BVC and participants got their first up-close look at the new facility.