In a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we learn that the USDA will run the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), the $1.25 billion biosafety level-4 laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas.
USDA will assume responsibility for all operational planning and eventual operation of the facility. DHS’ efforts are on schedule and on budget to complete construction in December 2020 and to complete commissioning in May 2021, when ownership of NBAF will be formally transferred to USDA.
“It’s a real honor for USDA to have the operational stewardship of NBAF. We look forward to working with Members of Congress, our private sector partners, and our academic partners in this area as we take over operations. USDA will make this a facility that America can be proud of,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“NBAF will be the first facility in the United States with maximum biocontainment, BSL-4 labs, where we can develop vaccines and diagnostics for high-consequence animal diseases – including those that can also affect human health,” Ibach said. “These expanded capabilities will enable us to be more dynamic and flexible in responding to disease threats—wherever they come from, whatever they look like.”
“All security starts with food security,” Hutchins said. “Few countries have as successful a history of protecting agriculture and their food supply from both intentional and unintentional threats as does the United States – with NBAF, we are doubling-down on this mission. This will be a unique, state-of-the-art national security asset where we will practice state-of-the-science research to avert and address critical bio-risks to U.S. agriculture.”
The state-of-the-art NBAF facility will replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. The Manhattan, Kansas, site strategically places it near the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, providing access to important veterinary, agricultural and biosecurity research and expertise.