The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility held its ribbon cutting ceremony

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) officially opened its doors Wednesday after 16 years of planning and construction.

“This is a monumental day for our entire state. This 1.25 billion dollar lab, the only one of its kind in the country, will put us on the front lines of making the entire country and the world safer, healthier, and more resilient through research, training, and diagnostics,” said Laura Kelly, Governor of Kansas.

The facility at the edge of K-State’s campus will help protect the nation’s agriculture, farmers, and citizens against the threat and potential impact of severe animal diseases. NBAF replaces the 68-year-old Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a biosafety level 3 facility. Senator Jerry Moran said the people were deciding to bring NBAF to Kansas.

“I have no doubt that Kansas was the right choice for this facility, here in the heart of the nation surrounded by farm country, surrounded by students who come from that farm country, at a premiere agriculture university,” said Moran.

K-State University is excited to partner with USDA to create opportunities for future students.

“Our University continues to push research boundaries to create the best student experience in America and we’re ready to lead in the workforce. K-State is excited, more importantly, K-State is ready for this partnership with USDA-ARS, and our community’s ready too,” said Dr. Richard Linton, president of K-State University.

NBAF is the first in the U.S. to provide maximum biocontainment (biosafety level-4) laboratories capable of housing large livestock to develop vaccines and diagnostics for zoonotic diseases. At NBAF, USDA will continue to conduct comprehensive research, develop vaccines and anti-virals, and provide enhanced diagnostic and training capabilities to protect the nation from foreign or transboundary animal diseases that can enter the U.S. from another country.

“What I love about the agriculture research service, is we don’t do science for science’s sake, there’s a real problem, a real challenge in agriculture and our scientists get to work on finding the scientific solution I’m excited to be the chief scientist and more importantly I’m excited for the scientists who get to work in this amazing facility,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA REE Under Secretary.

USDA will take over complete ownership and management of NBAF. The transition of responsibility from DHS to USDA will result in a more efficient alignment of core mission functions. 11 percent of jobs have some ties to agriculture, so protecting livestock and agricultural interests also protects the economy.

“This ribbon cutting is the beginning of opportunities that we are seeing already come to fruition and some ideas and thoughts that have never occurred to us yet and decades from now people will look back and see this facility is here changing the nature of our state and protecting and in growing the economy of our country,” said Moran.

NBAF will eventually have about 400 USDA personnel. As of December 2022, more than 280 team members have been hired to support NBAF operations and science.