(1) The Department of Agriculture may contract with the following entities to perform laboratory testing services for such entities: Any agency, board, commission, or political subdivision of this or another state, another state, the federal government, or an association which includes members that are governmental entities. Laboratory testing services authorized by this section shall not be performed beyond the scope of the Department of Agriculture's statutory authority and shall be limited to one or more of the following: (a) Acts of terrorism, natural disaster, or other public health or agricultural emergency; (b) testing performed in accordance with intergovernmental agreements for laboratory testing services; and (c) testing performed in connection with validation studies for analytical techniques and methods developed by entities whose function is establishing or approving official laboratory analytical standards. Every department contract to perform laboratory testing services shall include provisions clearly stating that the State of Nebraska shall not be liable to any party to the contract or to any third person for negligence of the department in analyzing samples or in publishing testing findings that result in injury to persons or damage to property.
(2) The department shall develop an equitable system of billing and charges for the laboratory testing services. Such charges shall reflect, as nearly as practicable, the actual costs incurred in performing the services.
(3) The Agricultural Laboratory Testing Services Cash Fund is created. All gifts and grants relating to this section from any source, including federal, state, public, or private sources, and charges collected for laboratory testing services shall be remitted to the State Treasurer for credit to the fund. The department shall use the fund to carry out this section. Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act.