Obama’s budget proposal would fund NBAF

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NBAF President Barack Obama’s proposed budget sent to Congress Wednesday, includes $714 million to build the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) near Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. The $1.15 billion lab would be built by the Department of Homeland Security and would replace the current facility on Plum Island, N.Y.

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts said, “After almost a decade of work by a whole bunch of folks, this is certainly good news. We’re not there yet, but it’s a milestone.”

The NBAF project has come under scrutiny due to cost issues, but supporters believe the lab is critical to our national defense and are now happy to see President Obama behind the project.

Senator Jerry Moran, also a Kansas Republican, said he would work with Roberts and others to preserve the funding in the final budget bill.

Roberts said the proposal will require additional financial commitments from Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback has indicated he supports the NBAF project and will work with the Kansas legislature to meet the financial commitment.

Kansas has agreed to contribute 20 percent of the cost of construction, and the state has already issued $105 million in bonds and $35 million from the Kansas Bioscience authority.

Kansas State University president Kirk Schulz said Wednesday’s budget announcement built on momentum for the project that began earlier when Homeland Security awarded contracts for the utility plant construction.

“The President’s budget recommendations solidify our confidence that Manhattan will be a national center for animal health as K-State becomes a Top 25 public research university,” Schulz said.



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W.E.    
April, 12, 2013 at 10:08 AM

NABF may be good for Kansas, but it isn't good for the rest of the country. Having huge processing plants located in the center of the country no longer makes sense. That 714 million could build a lot of regional USDA packing plants, couldn't it? That would reduce excessive costs for transportation, offer more widespread employment for rural areas, boost local economies, and allow regional diversification as a safety measure. Targeting ten or twenty or a couple of hundred local or regional food production or meat processing facilities would be a great deal more difficult than hitting one of the big three packers' plants. Local processors must answer to the people whom they serve directly, and they either do so or lose their business to competitors. That used to be the way this country's economy worked before corporations took over our nation's food production in the name of "efficiency."

maxine    
SD  |  April, 13, 2013 at 02:59 PM

W.E., you do understand that that facility, currently located on Plum Island, NY is charged with protecting all of us from devastating animal diseases, and more, don't you? And after hurricane Sandy and other severe storms damaging that Island, why do we still believe it is feasible to keep it there? Further, it is outdated, too small, and not as secure as a new one will be. Last I read, we don't need more animal processing units. They are closing due to over-capacity! AND transportation is going to be an issue, no matter where they are located. The processing facilites were moved years ago to be closer to the animals, moving the boxed product far easier and cost effective than transporting live cattle extreme distances to be processed. I agree there MAY be some chance of processing plants being "hit" by some sort of attack, but live cattle and other food animals are more likely to be the target for introducing a devastating disease to our food supply. from what I've heard.

maxine    
SD  |  April, 13, 2013 at 03:06 PM

I believe the Plum Island location has been shown to be dangerous after the damage inflicted to the Island itself during hurricane Sandy and other storms in that area last year. It is also too small, and impossible to properly secure, which is necessary for facility handling such dangerous organisms. Some cite tornadoes and a problem in KS. I would say maybe they should take a look at some of the homes built into the ground in that 'tornado alley'! Further, I believe it would be wise to put it at least partially underground for security reasons, but especially make it tornado proof! The other comments appear lacking understanding of the purpose of that facility, which is to protect our food supply from introduced, whether accidental or intentional, devastating diseases of animals, rather than to benefit packing plants in some way. Re. transportation and putting more packing plants across the country: we have excessive packing/processing capacity now, or plants would not be closing. Quite a few years ago, people realized it was more practical to put those facilities near the live animals, and transport the packaged meat the longer distances, that being more compact and not needing time off the trucks to rest periodically!

Concerned in NY    
April, 15, 2013 at 06:48 AM

Has anyone heard any specifics about damage to plum island after hurricane sandy? if this is true, it would be really bad, but a friend of mine is a contractor there and he said operations did not stop during the hurricane. Maybe he is not being forthcoming though? What do you know? In regards to the facility being too small - alot of money was spent on new buildings at CDC in atlanta in the late 90's and early 2000's, now there are alot of empty buildings because there is no money to hire government scientists. We shouldn't be asking the government to do more with less - spending money on infrastructure when there is no money for employees seems counterintuitive to me. Money should only be spent when there is a clear path for the future, and the trends of limited government spending on research is only going to put NBAF in mothball before it even gets finished.

Concerned in NY    
April, 17, 2013 at 06:34 AM

Has anyone heard any specifics about damage to plum island after hurricane sandy? if this is true, it would be really bad, but a friend of mine is a contractor there and he said operations did not stop during the hurricane. Maybe he is not being forthcoming though? What do you know? In regards to the facility being too small - alot of money was spent on new buildings at CDC in atlanta in the late 90's and early 2000's, now there are alot of empty buildings because there is no money to hire government scientists. We shouldn't be asking the government to do more with less - spending money on infrastructure when there is no money for employees seems counterintuitive to me. Money should only be spent when there is a clear path for the future, and the trends of limited government spending on research is only going to put NBAF in mothball before it even gets finished.


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