The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System has announced that it will close its Fresno facility due to a budget shortage. Managed by the University of California, Davis, the laboratory will close July 19.

The laboratory system provides diagnostic services for diseases in livestock, poultry and horses to veterinarians and animal producers in California's agricultural heartland. Closure of the 59-year-old Fresno laboratory will shift diagnostic testing to other facilities in the laboratory system.

"Unfortunately, reduced state funding combined with rising costs to manage a sophisticated laboratory system have left it struggling to maintain services," said Bennie Osburn, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, which operates the laboratory network.

Rising costs and a reduction in the contract with the state during 2008-2009, compounded by the weak economy, have left the system with a projected funding deficit exceeding $2 million in 2009-2010.

The closure of the Fresno laboratory will affect more than 20 employees, resulting in the reassignment of three faculty positions to the system's labs in Tulare and Davis and the layoff of the remaining scientific and administrative personnel.

"While we deeply regret the personal and professional impact of this closure upon our colleagues in Fresno, we remain committed to upholding the mission of the laboratory system. We will make every effort to continue to provide excellent, reliable diagnostic service,” said Hailu Kinde, director of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System.