Dirk Shoemaker, Focus Area Administrator
The Agriculture Laboratories Division provides testing services for the various regulatory
bureaus within the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) by performing chemical,
physical, bacteriological, and microscopical analyses on submitted samples. These are used to
evaluate foods, beverages, feeds, fertilizers, agriculture lime, seeds, dairy products, and
environmental samples. Samples are submitted by NDA inspectors as part of regulatory
investigations. In some cases, samples from other sources are accepted. Lab sections include:
Dairy & Food Lab
The Dairy and Food Laboratory tests samples of milk, milk products, and food products for wholesomeness and compliance with labeling claims. Milk and milk products are tested under a national program called the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS). Under this program, samples are tested for bacteria, somatic cell count, drug residues, proper pasteurization, and other parameters. In addition, water from dairy operations and plants is tested for certain microbiological parameters.
The Food and Dairy Laboratory Supervisor also performs duties as a Laboratory Evaluation Officer (LEO). Operating under certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the LEO surveys private milk laboratory staff under the NCIMS "Appendix-N" program
to ensure they are capable of properly testing milk.
Food products are analyzed to determine whether they meet federal laws and manufacturer's label statements. In cooperation with the HHSS State Epidemiologist and other city and county health departments, this laboratory tests samples associated with suspected foodborne illnesses. The laboratory is also a member of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), a national network of federal, state, and local food testing laboratories which maintain Homeland Security readiness. Currently, the laboratory operates under a USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service grant to upgrade facilities and equipment as part of the FERN program.
Feed, Fertilizer, & Ag Lime Lab
The Feed, Fertilizer, and Ag Lime (FFAL) Laboratory tests feeds, fertilizers, and agricultural lime products for compliance with labeling claims made by the manufacturers of those products. The laboratory also tests samples for adulteration and contamination. Examples of this work are the detection of residues of drugs and antibiotics, and the detection of mycotoxins such as
aflatoxin, in animal feed.
The laboratory performs testing on certain animal feeds for the presence of "prohibited materials". Prohibited materials are animal products which are not allowed in cattle feed and the feed of other ruminant animals according to regulations established by the FDA. Currently, the FFAL Laboratory receives funding under a grant from the FDA to prevent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or "Mad Cow Disease" in the United States.
The Seed Laboratory tests agricultural, garden, and flower seeds for purity, germination, and weed seed content. This testing is performed in accordance with Nebraska State Law which requires that products labeled for sale in the State of Nebraska must be properly labeled. The laboratory also examines wild bird food for the presence of noxious weeds under the Nebraska Feed Law. The laboratory is co-located with the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association (NCIA) Laboratory in Room 267 of Plant Science Hall. Non-regulatory tests on seeds are performed on a fee-for-service basis by staff of the combined laboratory.
Application for Permit to Sell Agricultural, Vegetable and/or Flower (Wildflower) Seeds
Law and Related Statues
Schedule of Service Charges
Service Test Information
The Residue Laboratory tests samples from two major sources: (1) each year all dairies are tested for the presence of pesticide residues in their milk; and (2) water samples from the state's natural resource districts (NRD) to determine the presence of certain pesticides in the water. The Residue Laboratory also cooperates with other laboratories for the testing of other commodities
and products for pesticide residues.
Soil & Plant Analysis Laboratory Act
Staff from the Agriculture Laboratories administer the Nebraska Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory Act, a law which regulates Nebraska soil laboratories. All soil laboratories operating in the state which perform nutrient testing for others must be licensed with NDA. The NDA soil survey officer inspects each laboratory on a biennial basis. Also, each laboratory must demonstrate their capability to provide accurate testing by participating in a recognized proficiency testing program.
Soil & Plant
Analysis Laboratory Act
Soil & Plant
Analysis Laboratory Act Regulations
Plant Testing Laboratories
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