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National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Advances

July 30, 2019

Last month, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security signed a Memorandum of Agreement that formally outlines how the departments will transfer ownership and operational responsibility for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) from DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate to USDA. When completed, NBAF will be a biosafety level-4 laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas – the only large-animal BSL 4 lab in the United States’ mainland- for the study of diseases that threaten both U.S. agriculture and public health. The state-of-the-art NBAF facility will replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. USDA also released a document outlining USDA’s strategic vision for NBAF summarizing how NBAF will serve as a national biosecurity asset to protect human and animal health, food safety and the ag economy.

Under the terms of the memorandum, DHS retains responsibility for completing construction and commissioning of the $1.25 billion facility, while 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. USDA does not currently have an operational and maintenance budget for the NBAF facility, so new funds will need to be authorized and budgeted to ensure it becomes the world-class animal disease research center that has been envisioned.

Contact: Jamie Jonker