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Groundbreaking Ceremony for Agricultural Research Center in Athens

Online Athens

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue making a stop in Athens this morning for the groundbreaking ceremony for a new research facility at the Agricultural Research Service, or ARS. Once completed, the facility will be the largest poultry research center in the country. The former Georgia Governor said he found it’s through research done at facilities like the ARS that Georgia has managed to avoid the same type devastation by avian influenza in many other parts of the world.

“So the outbreak that we had in middle, southern Tennessee earlier this year in January, and it crept across Alabama and even veered into northwest Georgia, but the biosecurity measures and the steps taken confined that to just a single farm there,” according to Perdue. “That’s the kind of thing we learn here, how we can stop that.”

Perdue said Georgia is the poultry capital of the world Others in attendance included Rep. Sanford Bishops, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, and Mile Giles, President of the Georgia Poultry Association who called the numbers are staggering.

“The broiler industry, the turkey industry, and the egg industry, combined have an annual economic impact of $433 billion on the United States economy.”

Giles says indirectly, more than 1.6 million jobs depend on the poultry industry.

In 2016 US produced 54 billion pounds of broiler chickens, 7 1/2 billion pounds of turkey and 88 billon eggs. It's expected to take five years to build the facility. Once completed, the lab located in East Lansing, Michigan will move to the Athens center. It will be the largest poultry research facility in the U.S.