As you are aware, the Department of Homeland Security is currently working to build the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a new state-of-the-art biosafety level (BSL) 3 & 4 facility in Manhattan, Kansas. This facility will bring to the nation new and enhanced capabilities to address animal and zoonotic pathogens of high consequence to our livestock and public health sectors.

Construction of the NBAF is a major step towards ensuring resiliency in our livestock sectors and preparing our nation for future animal and public health disease events. However, in addition to facilities, a robust program, complete with industry, academia, federal, state, and global partnerships, that works to define capabilities and address gaps in these capabilities will be needed to ensure success of this facility. At this moment, the agricultural community/enterprise and our public health partners have the opportunity to come together with our federal, state and global partners to define the path forward for this facility and to create a new and unique ecosystem comprised of novel partnerships and collaborations that will define the way that research is prioritized, conducted and subsequently transitioned into use to protect our livestock and public health communities.

To this end, the Department of Homeland Security is currently hosting a National Conversation on Homeland Security Technology. This conversation is a series of online and in-person discussions designed to get people talking about how to innovate solutions for the Nation’s homeland security challenges. It is intended to foster exchange between responders/operational users and innovators to generate sustainable homeland security solutions that will keep our communities safe and resilient.

In June 2015, a new dialogue was launched to stimulate discussion around America’s bio/agro security posture. This new dialogue is intended to help prepare NBAF to protect our country from foreign animal and emerging diseases. On this site you have the ability to share your thoughts on:

·         How NBAF can be leveraged to help advance foreign animal disease research;

·         Workforce needs across government and the private sector to address current and emergent foreign animal disease threats;

·         How NBAF and other regional assets/capabilities can be leveraged to provide One Health solutions; and

·         Anything else you feel might be relevant to the Department, especially the Science and Technology Directorate, in this area.

It is only through active participation and conversation that we as a community (the livestock industries, biopharma, allied industries, global veterinary community, state and federal partners and others) will better prepare ourselves and our industries for animal and zoonotic health events. We encourage you to visit the national conversation website and provide your thoughts on how we as a community can work together to ensure a continued healthy and safe food supply, robust livestock markets, and in general better prepare ourselves for animal and public health disease events.

To learn more about the conversation please visit: http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/join-conversation

In order to participate you will need to register through the website at: http://scitech.ideascale.com/a/home/

You can access the NBAF Bio/Agro Security Innovation dialogue at: http://scitech.ideascale.com/a/pages/bioagro.

Please take time out of your busy schedules to participate in this important conversation. In doing so, you will ensure that the importance of livestock and agriculture to our nation and its economy are well documented. In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in, and have a voice in, a project/program that will impact the future of livestock health in the United States for decades to come.

Thanks in advance for your time dedicated to this important topic. We know how busy you are but assure you that time taken out of your schedules to participate in this conversation will have lasting impacts for the U.S. livestock sectors.