The $1.1 trillion compromise spending bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday includes $404 million for the construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan. The bill will now face a vote in the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
The new funding adds to previous federal expenditures and a $202 million NBAF commitment by the state of Kansas, toward an expected total of $1 billion for the facility, according to an article from the Wichita Business Journal. The facility would replace the current Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off the coast of New York.
“For those who have questioned whether NBAF will be built in Kansas, the passage of this funding bill will provide a clear answer: yes,” says Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. “This investment means Kansas will become a research epicenter, and the construction of this modern, world-class facility will ultimately create jobs for Kansans in the fields of engineering, science and technology. The talented young men and women who grow up here will have more opportunities to work and live in Kansas.”
According to a release from Moran’s office, a 2012 economic impact study found the NBAF will employ approximately 326 permanent employees and support some 757 construction jobs and will a $3.5 billion economic impact on Kansas in the first 20 years alone.
The research work at the NBAF intends to develop vaccines and other technologies to prevent and mitigate outbreaks of foreign animal diseases, which could have enormous impacts to the livestock industry and the overall U.S. economy. The facility has been controversial though, with some stakeholders questioning the plan to locate it in Kansas, in the heart of U.S. livestock production, in contrast with the current Plum Island location.
According to the release from Moran’s office, the main laboratory will incorporate safety and security features recommended by the National Academies of Sciences. It will include specialized air and water decontamination systems, new technologies for handling solid waste onsite and structural components to strengthen the laboratory against hazardous weather conditions.
A funding commitment was also made to provide infrastructure repairs at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to guarantee a smooth transition of research from Plum Island, N.Y., to Manhattan, Kan.
The Senate is likely to vote on the spending bill this week, and it then will go to the President for his signature.