The Idaho Department of Agriculture may soon break ground for a $2 million toxic-chemicals lab.

But before that can happen, officials must dig up the cash to run the facility and make sure lawmakers stick to their financial commitment to the project.Construction could start as early as June on the Food Quality Assurance Laboratory, which is designed to see that toxic chemicals aren't finding their way into Idaho food products.

Ron Foster, the project's steering committee chairman, said $2 million appropriated by the Legislature last year is earmarked for construction and equipment. The money was to be released after other funds are found to operate the lab, he said.

But Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus proposed in his budget plan to delay the project for a full year, earmarking the money for projects in other areas. The budget juggling was just part of the administration's bid to come up with a 1992 state spending plan that can be accommodated by slower economic growth. And the Legislature's forecast for economic expansion is even more conservative than the governor's.

Agriculture Department Director Greg Nelson said the lab might need as much as $1 million its first year.