Few Plum Island employees coming

KSU beef unit to move, giving NBAF more space

By Bethany Knipp

If initial responses are correct, only a few employees will come to Manhattan’s future National Bio and Agro Defense Facility from Plum Island, N.Y., where an aging biosecurity facility will be phased out.

NBAF will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, where threats to agriculture and public health have been studied.

There are several reasons few employees (likely all scientists, Trewyn said) are planning a move to Kansas from New York after completion of the $1 billion structure.

“The scientists there are all approaching retirement age,” said Ron Trewyn, Kansas State University vice president for research.  “And some people apparently don’t think this Manhattan is equivalent to that Manhattan.”

NBAF will have about 350 employees, about the same as Plum Island, but Trewyn said the New York facility had more non-science personnel than the Kansas research center will employ.

“There will be more scientists and more science done here,” he said. “They (at Plum Island) work essentially on one disease — foot-and-mouth disease — whereas NBAF projects, they’ll be working on seven to eight diseases at a time.”

Some of those diseases include African swine fever, classical swine fever and Rift Valley fever.

“Right now, a lot of the work isn’t being done on any of those threats anywhere.” Trewyn said.

Plum Island doesn’t have the modern infrastructure needed for research, and NBAF will not be finished for several years.

Some members of Congress are trying to push for construction on the main laboratory structure at Kimball and Denison avenues to begin before October, Trewyn said. (See related story at right.)The planned structure will be adjacent to the Biosecurity Research Institute.

In another NBAF-related development, Trewyn said the K-State Purebred Beef Teaching Unit is planning to move its teaching facilities at 1635 Kimball Ave., freeing up space for possible use by the facility or related entities.

The beef unit uses 300 breeding-age purebred Angus, Hereford, and Simmental cows to teach undergraduate students how to feed, market, manage and breed the cattle.

Trewyn said he didn’t know exactly when the move would happen, but that it would cost a little more than $5 million.

The teaching barn is also old and the plan would include upgrading the facility, Trewyn said.

Barn manager Tyler Leonhard said the teaching unit department hasn’t started exploring options for a new location.

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