WTAMU celebrates two new ag production facilities, enhances Texas A&M partnership

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University celebrated the grand opening of two facilities today that will help solidify WT’s veterinary medicine program as one of the best in the country.

The Charles W. “Doc” Graham Center, which is located a short distance from Buffalo Stadium, is the home base to the Veterinary Education, Research & Outreach Building (VERO), and the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Building (TVMDL). In prepared remarks, WT said the facilities opened for operation in September 2020, but the grand opening to the public was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

25% of all beef consumed in the United States is produced within a two-hour drive from the WT campus. According to Texas A&M officials, this aspect alone highlights the need for young agriculture professionals from the Panhandle region. A great amount of research is done in feed lots in the area. Many feed lots use drones to detect and prevent disease in area feed lots.

Students entering into and eventually graduating from WT’s agriculture program, will already be acclimated to the latest in food production safety and research. All, a crucial part in the High Plains economy, as well as quality of life.

“We’re becoming, I think, a real research center that will lead the way in the next few decades to better food production and dependable food production,” said Rep. John Smithee (TX-86). “And ultimately, the food security issue is a national security issue. So that’s a big part of what’s going on here.”

WT officials said the $22 million, 34,000 square-foot VERO building, serves as a teaching center for veterinary medicine and research students. The TVMDL facility, which is a $17.6 million, 22,000 square-foot facility, is a full service diagnostic lab that offers services in bacteriology, pathology, serology and virology. Students will be equipped with technology that will allow them to run a battery of tests on an animal to determine sickness or death, which in the end, is crucial to the flow of the regional food chain.

“The testing that we provide helps ensure that the animals and eventually the products from those animals are safe,” said Dr. Bruce Akey, Director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. “And that they are available, and keeps that food chain moving. You literally cannot keep the food supply chain moving without ensuring the health of those animals, and we play a critical part in that.”

The goal for this state-of-the-art agriculture complex is to not only produce a program steeped in academic excellence, but in light of the recent cyberattack on JBS, will also play a crucial part in food research safety. The program is set up in what’s deemed as a 2+2 model, in which students do their first two years at WT, if they choose, and finish their studies at Texas A&M’s agriculture facility in College Station. Dr. Walter Wendler, President of West Texas A&M University said the end hope is students will return to the area and practice what they’ve learned.

“Students who get accepted into Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, they will do their first two years here,” said Dr. Wendler. “And our hope is that the students will focus on large animal veterinary practice to be useful and attractive to the ranchers and the feed lot operators in this part of Texas.”

That’s the latest in what W-T is serving up.

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