Groundbreaking held for the new $1.2B NABF animal health facility in Kansas

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday for the $1.2 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NABF) currently under construction in Kansas.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson joined state dignitaries in the festivities.

"NBAF addresses a serious vulnerability that biological or agricultural threats could have a substantial effect on the food supply of this nation and have serious public health consequences," Johnson said during the ceremony.

The lab, which will study swine flu, foot and mouth disease and other livestock ailments, is being moved from Plum Island off of Long Island, NY, to just off the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, KS. The final $300 million allocation to build the facility's main lab was approved this year.

Kansas was selected as the site of the new facility, replacing the aging Plum Island lab, following a three-year process that included assessments of the environmental and security risks involved.

It is also hoped the new NBAF facility will attract animal health companies to locate operations in the region. Midwest Veterinary Services recently built a $5 million animal health biosafety level 2 facility on the outskirts of the town to be near the NBAF when it is up and operating.

The lab falls within what is marketed as the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, which runs from Manhattan, KS, east to Columbia, MO, and has more than 300 animal health-related companies. It's the largest such concentration in the world.

Completion for the NBAF lab was originally scheduled for 2015, but is expected to be fully operational by 2022.

- check out the Salina Journal article