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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the NBAF?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to open a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. This state-of-the-art facility will be a national asset designed to protect our nation’s agriculture, farmers, ranchers and producers along with citizens against the threat and potential impact of serious animal diseases.

NBAF will replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center located on Plum Island, New York. The facility, owned by DHS, is more than 60 years old. Currently, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conduct foreign animal disease research, training and diagnostics in this facility.

What will be the purpose of NBAF?

To protect the producers and the food supply, a robust capability is necessary to detect, treat and prevent animal diseases. Protection of livestock and agricultural interests also protects the economy since agriculture, food, and food processing contribute over $3.9 trillion to the U.S. economy per year, representing 22% of the domestic economy.

To protect the food supply and support the U.S. economy, NBAF will enable the U.S. to conduct comprehensive research, develop vaccines and anti-virals, and provide enhanced diagnostic and training capabilities to protect the nation from numerous emerging and foreign animal diseases (FADs). This includes zoonotic FADs that pose threats to livestock and/or human health. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to people (or more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but that can infect humans). The state-of-the-art, $1.25 billion facility will be the first in the U.S. to provide maximum biocontainment (biosafety level-4) laboratories capable of housing cattle and other large livestock for the purpose of developing vaccines and diagnostics for these diseases. NBAF is not only about protecting biological and agricultural interests in America; it's also about supporting global health and food security.

NBAF will be a critical component of a key USDA priority – the development of vaccines and countermeasures for and the detection of diseases that threaten livestock, other animals and food from our nation’s farms and fields.

What agencies within USDA have a role with NBAF?

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will have programs at NBAF and share responsibilities for its operation. ARS will own the facility and hire the NBAF Director.

How many people will be working at the facility when it is operating at full capacity?

Approximately 400 personnel will eventually staff NBAF.

How much will NBAF cost?

NBAF construction and commissioning will cost $1.25 billion. The $1.25 billion acquisition cost was fully funded in FY15 through a combination of $938 million in federal appropriations, $307 million in funding provided by the State of Kansas, and $5 million from the City of Manhattan (Kansas).

Why the transition of responsibility for NBAF from DHS to USDA?

Per guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, DHS and USDA started planning for USDA to take over complete ownership and management of NBAF once the facility is commissioned in 2021. The transition of responsibility from DHS to USDA will result in a more efficient alignment of core mission functions.

How is NBAF’s transition between USDA and DHS happening?

DHS has responsibility for (finishing) construction of the facility, while USDA will assume and retain operational responsibility for the facility. USDA will be responsible for the operations of the completed facility in Dec. 2020, two years prior to the facility reaching full operational capacity (FOC).

USDA and DHS have developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to outline agency responsibilities for the transition and are working together closely to execute plans.