Federal officials begin foundation of bio-defense facility

On Wednesday, federal and state leaders laid the foundation of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility near the Kansas State University’s football stadium.

Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer were joined by both the US senators from Kansas, three of the state’s four US representatives, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and the US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The price tag for the plant on the Kansas University campus initially was estimated to be $451 million when it was awarded to Manhattan in late 2008. Manhattan was chosen as the future home of the facility in 2011. The price tag is $1.2 billion currently.

Twenty-five percent of NBAF’s price tag is being paid for by the state of Kansas. According to Brownback, it is an unprecedented partnership between federal and state governments.

Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican from Kansas’ 3rd District said, “We’re here to celebrate NBAF but we’re also here to celebrate Kansas and Kansans and the vision we have for this state. I feel like the seeds for this were planted by our forefathers who came here so long ago”.

Hundreds of people moved through tight security and into a crowded white tent at the NBAF construction site to hear the long list of speakers from federal, state and local government.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Kansas’ 2nd District said that although many of us will stand up here and take credit, the real credit lies at K-State.

The need for a new facility came from a presidential directive made by President George W. Bush in 2004. He wanted to defend the agriculture and food system against terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

According to Homeland Security estimates construction will be completed in 2021 and NBAF will replace the Plum Island facility in 2023.