Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today broke ground to officially begin construction of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) main laboratory structure in Manhattan, Kansas.

"The NBAF laboratory will provide the nation with cutting edge, state-of-the-art, lab capabilities and help protect our food supply and the nation’s public health,” said Secretary Johnson.  “NBAF addresses a serious vulnerability. The economic impact of a bio agricultural threat – deliberate or natural – could have a substantial effect on the food supply of this Nation and have serious human health consequences.  We will soon be able to ensure availability of vaccines and other rapid response capabilities to curb an outbreak.  With the NBAF, our Nation will have the first Bio Level 4 lab facility of its kind – a state-of-the-art bio-containment facility for the study of foreign animal and emerging diseases.”

When completed and fully operational in 2022, the $1.25 billion NBAF will be a 570,000 sq.ft, biocontainment facility for the study of foreign animal and emerging zoonotic (transmitted from animals to humans) diseases that threaten animal agriculture and public health in the United States.

“This innovative new facility is capable of producing the research needed to protect our nation’s farmers, food supply, public health and the rural economy.  It has been a national priority for USDA, DHS, and our other partners as we work to replace aging facilities,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Secretaries Johnson and Vilsack were joined by DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas, Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Mayor of Manhattan Karen McCulloh, and Kansas State University President Dr. Kirk Schulz. A unique partnership among DHS, the State of Kansas, and the City of Manhattan came together to construct this facility.

NBAF, located in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor—the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York, providing capabilities that exceed those of PIADC. Specifically, NBAF will boast a maximum biocontainment (ABSL-4) laboratory space. The first laboratory facility in the United States of its kind, this facility will allow researchers to study zoonotic diseases that affect livestock and other large animals. Underscoring the need for this research is the knowledge that approximately 75 percent of new and emerging infectious diseases over the last 30 years have been zoonotic diseases.

Similar to the work at PIADC, NBAF will be a strategic national asset, providing modern laboratory space for DHS and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to carry out their unique yet complementary missions. The key functions of the NBAF laboratory space will include basic research, sample receipt testing and diagnosis, veterinarian training, countermeasures and vaccine candidate development, and vaccine efficacy trials.