State Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake). (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

The Minnesota Senate Ag Finance Committee, chaired by Elbow Lake Senator Torrey Westrom, had a hearing on a bill last week that would allocate $675,000 to update a diagnostic lab for testing livestock for the African Swine Fever. Westrom told KMRS that the virus has wiped out half of the swine population in China.

“China has been devastated by this in their farm community,” Westrom explained. “We do not want it here, but if it would hit here or other types of animal diseases, the speed that would be increased would be more than twice the speed that they could process these tests. We’ve certainly been hearing a lot in the news the need for speed is real when there’s a virus in the air. And so, this would be the same with ASF. You need to test a lot and in a hurry. So the equipment would be more automated as well as speed up the testing.”

Westrom said COVID-19 has taught the importance of rapid testing. But with the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the state’s budget, the bill’s future is uncertain.

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