OKLAHOMA CITY—The Oklahoma State Department of Health, in partnership with Gov. Kevin Stitt and federal, state and private industry leadership, recently announced the creation of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE). OPCIE is intended to be the state’s frontline of defense against future biosecurity-threatening diseases. The facility will be located in Stillwater, leveraging Oklahoma’s rural and urban assets to benefit public health.

OPCIE’s creation is being announced as part of the Oklahoma Public Health Lab’s move to Stillwater. The new lab will include a human diagnostic/public health laboratory, a genetic biorepository, and a multi-disciplinary basic science lab for human, animal, plant and food-related bioterrorism research.

AFR/OFU Cooperative supports the relocation of the state’s public health laboratory to Stillwater, as well as the creation of OPCIE. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of state-of-the-art centers like OPCIE to both urban and rural populations and national security as a whole.

“Covid-19 threatened the health of our state and our nation, and also served as a warning about the vulnerability of our food system,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “The last few months have shown that quick, accurate testing for both human and animal disease is a vital part of our nation’s security. OPCIE is a necessary and welcomed investment in the future of our state and national food supply chain. It will play an important role in keeping food on the table for millions of Americans.

“Oklahoma State University is a hub of agricultural research and animal and human health innovation, making Stillwater a logical place for the Public Health Lab. OPCIE will make collaboration between OSU and the state lab second nature. This collaboration is crucial for farmers, ranchers and rural communities across the state.”

AFR/OFU Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR/OFU provides educational, legislative and cooperative programs across the state and serves as a watchdog for Oklahoma’s family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. The organization is actively supportive of the state’s agricultural industry and rural population with membership consisting of farmers actively involved in production agriculture and non-farmers adding their voice in support of AFR/OFU principles.