Homeland Security Sec. Visits National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

In 2022, the curtain will close on the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York and the doors will open on the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. The $1.25 billion facility is a biosafety level-4 laboratory and will play an instrumental role in securing the food supply and developing vaccines for animal diseases.

NBAF is being constructed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured the facility for a firsthand look at the laboratory that will handle large animal pathogens that do not currently have treatments or countermeasures.

“There's always something to be said about seeing something firsthand,” she told a group of reporters following a tour of the facility on Monday. “I was very impressed with how complex the project is. From a contract perspective, it's hundreds of subcontractors over the years and change, or it's a very complex management project.”

Because it will house high-risk pathogens, NBAF it is designed to withstand natural disasters ranging from earthquakes to E-F5 tornadoes.

“That's important because it's very difficult to bolt on that security on the back end,” she explained. “So, it's being built right in. The containment will be secure no matter what the weather throws at us. It's very impressive to see.”

While the project currently remains under the auspices of DHS, a 2019 federal budget proposes transferring authority of NBAF to the U.S. Department of Agriculture when the laboratory opens in late 2022 or early 2023.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) said he expects the facility’s billon-dollar price tag to be matched by private sector investments in animal science in north central Kansas and northeast Kansas. The location is strategic both for its proximity to the animal health corridor and veterinary, agriculture and biosecurity research.

“It's never easy to appropriate a billion dollars,” Moran said. “That's a huge amount of money. But in comparison to what the cost to the economy, but more important, the loss of life that can occur as a result of either an intentional or unintentional introduction of bio agent into our food supply system, it is a price worth paying.”

Americans take safe food for granted, said Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS), and they don’t necessarily realize the work that goes into keeping it safe. Some threats are natural and some are manmade, he said, but we need to invest to be able to respond to all of them to keep our food supply intact.

The project is 67% compete and will be finished by 2021, said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“They’re on time and on schedule,” he said.

During the press conference at NBAF, Sen. Roberts also said he predicts the long awaited and debated vaccine bank will be part of the 2018 Farm Bill.


Video and reporting by Portia Stewart.

A farmer in Georgia who has lost an estimated $2.2 million worth of pasture-raised chickens to bald eagle attacks has won a restitution case as determined by a branch of the U.S. Department of Agricul

Smithfield Foods has closed it’s Tar Heel, N.C., pork plant for Thursday and Friday due to Hurricane Florence.Despite being downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 200 mph, officials warn

In 2022, the curtain will close on the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York and the doors will open on the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. The $1.25 billio

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will host a joint public meeting on Oct. 23-24 to address concerns about cell cultured meat also known as “lab-g

Nearly half a million more cattle were added to feedlots since August last year.According to the latest USDA Cattle on Feed report, the 4.6% increase in the Aug. 1 inventory resulted in 11,093,000 cat

In their August Crop Production report on Friday, USDA said they anticipate the national average corn yield to be 178.4 bu. per acre, and the national average soybean yield to be 51.6 bu. per acre. Fa

A debate on which regulatory agency should enforce fake meat products is being had by two cattlemen’s groups as lab-grown “meat” is still being developed.At issue between the National Cattlemen'

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a $12 billion program to help farmers who are currently bearing the brunt of President Trump’s trade tactics. “Today were formally announcing that the

Producers impacted by wildfires and hurricanes in 2017 are eligible for monetary assistance to rebuild and recover on their farms through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA).A program known

Last week, several major news outlets reporting that during recent trade talks in Beijing, China proposed to buy roughly $70 billion worth of U.S. ag and energy products if the United States lifts its