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Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Senate committee advances bill to create lab for bio- and agro- threats

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The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry advanced a bill to create as a national security laboratory to combat bio-and agro-terrorism threats.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) Act of 2019 (S. 2695) would establish the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to provide research and development to defend infrastructure against bio- and agro-terrorism threats.

Specifically, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility would integrate agricultural, zoonotic disease, and public health research to address threats from human pathogens, high-consequence zoonotic disease agents, emerging foreign animal diseases, and animal transboundary diseases. The facility would also address biological incidence threats and provide training. Further, the facility would share data and information with the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The facility will be built in Manhattan, Kan. It is anticipated to be operational in 2022.

“National security is a growing priority for the agriculture industry, which faces many potential foreign threats. This bipartisan bill will add another layer of defense for the food supply in our country. I’m glad to see a collaborative cross-agency approach to address emerging threats and prioritize farm and food safety,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Grassley said in support of the bill.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the committee, and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the ranking member.

“NBAF is a historic economic and scientific achievement for Kansas. The hundreds of high-paying jobs created at NBAF will provide opportunities for generations of Kansans and will spur research partnerships across the entire state,” Roberts said. “NBAF is a national security asset that will serve a critical role in protecting our nation’s animal health. The research and development at this facility is vital in protecting against bio and agro-terrorism threats, one of my greatest concerns.”

The 500,000 square foot building will create as many as 500 permanent jobs and 1,500 construction jobs. It will have a $3.5 billion impact on the Kansas economy.

It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.