Answer on NBAF: Yes

By The Mercury

The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) got over a significant hump Monday as Congressional negotiators included $404 million for the project in a $1.012 trillion spending bill.

The House and Senate still need to vote on the bill this week, but U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., expressed confidence that it would pass.

“For those who have questioned whether NBAF will be built in Kansas, the passage of this funding bill will provide a clear answer: yes,” the Senate Appropriations Committee member said in a statement.

Moran said the facility would create jobs for Kansans in the engineering, science and technology fields — as the state becomes “a research epicenter.”

NBAF is scheduled to replace Plum Island Animal Disease Center as the nation’s lead facility for large animal research — including foot-and-mouth disease research being conducted for the first time on the U.S. mainland.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who represents Manhattan in the 1st District, said in a statement that NBAF would allow the nation to move forward from the aging Plum Island, N.Y., facility — which was built in the 1950s.

“A large amount of critical research, postponed or outsourced to other countries because of inadequate and insecure facilities in the U.S., can now be pursued on various animal and zoonotic diseases that threaten our critical livestock industry and human health,” he said.

Construction of the main lab is expected to start this year.

The fact that the project is receiving $404 million is a significant step, but $310 million still needs to be appropriated for the project’s funding to be complete.

In April 2013, President Barack Obama committed the remaining $714 million needed for the $1.23 billion facility in his 2014 budget.

The project’s original timeline had construction starting in 2010, but construction of the central utilities plant didn’t begin until 2013 after a groundbreaking ceremony in late May 2013.

The project’s numerous delays have occurred due to a funding process that was slower than anticipated, as well as the escalating cost and ongoing budget disputes in Congress.

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