Commissioner praises passage of bill to add new division to State Vet’s office
Division would focus on emergency preparedness, response
FRANKFORT (March 15, 2023) – Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles is applauding the work of Kentucky legislators after they passed a bill to add a new division within the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) Office of the State Veterinarian (OSV).
Senate Bill 46 (SB46) enhances the department’s preparedness and response to animal emergencies. Sen. Jason Howell (R-Murray), who is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, sponsored the bill.
“I appreciate Sen. Howell’s leadership and the legislators in the Kentucky House and Senate recognizing the importance of OSV,” Commissioner Quarles said. “OSV’s top priority is protecting the health of livestock and poultry in the commonwealth. The passage of this bill will allow KDA to start changes to help us enhance this ability, especially in the case of an animal health emergency.”
“I was proud to work with Commissioner Quarles on this bill to increase staffing and emergency preparedness for the Office of the State Veterinarian,” Sen. Howell said. “This bill restructures the State Vet’s office and readies it for the necessary improvements needed to increase its capacity to respond to animal health emergencies, which is a benefit to all Kentucky residents.”
The need forSB46 was first introduced in November when Commissioner Quarles, KDA Chief of Staff Keith Rogers, and former State Veterinarian Dr. Katie Flynn testified before the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture. The bill passed out of the Senate and House this month with overwhelming support. The bill now goes to the governor for signing.
In addition to creating the Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response to the State Vet office, SB46 renames two current divisions including the Division of Animal Health to the Division of Regulatory Field Services and the Division of Producer Services to the Division of Animal Health Programs. The changes address the top three deficiencies the Office of the State Veterinarian (OSV) identified during the last year: emergency programs, policy and regulations, and outreach and education.
OSV is currently made up of 35 positions, led by the state veterinarian and deputy state vet. Most of the jobs, 25, are in Animal Health. The remaining 10 staff are in the Producer Services division. SB46 would provide for increased staff, allowing OSV to be better positioned for its principal role in protecting Kentucky’s animal agriculture.
OSV’s need for more staff has been put on critical display in the last 18 months as the office dealt with several animal disease and natural disaster occurrences, including a Chronic Wasting Disease case in a deer near the Tennessee border, which initiated required surveillance throughout several counties in Kentucky; devastating tornadoes that impacted agriculture across Western Kentucky; several outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, a deadly virus for domesticated poultry; and widespread flooding in Eastern Kentucky.
SB46 would allow the state vet’s office to be in a better position to defend the state’s agriculture livestock against disease and nature disasters, while at the same time completing the other tasks that maintain the health of the state’s herds and flocks.