MANHATTAN, KAN. – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) dedicated the long-anticipated National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) on May 24.

The new 48-acre facility will become one of the top laboratories in the world to study and diagnose animal diseases.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and consumers count on our researchers to understand, monitor for and develop solutions to combat a variety of high-consequence animal pathogens, and a facility of this magnitude positions us to respond,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This new, innovative facility will give USDA scientists access to cutting-edge, safe and secure technology so they can continue to lead the world in animal health research, training and diagnostics to protect our food supply, agricultural economy and public health.”

Both departments began working on a new facility in 2006, with the site in Manhattan, Kan., selected in 2009. DHS led the design and construction of NBAF, while the USDA will own and operate the space, which features 700,000 square feet of total building space and will employ more than 400 people. 

NBAF will feature a biosafety level-4 laboratory space to study livestock and other large animals. It also has support areas and required safety systems like redundant high-efficiency particulate air filters and waste decontamination systems. The facility is located next to Kansas State University. 

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) will work with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to operate the facility. 

ARS will focus on research to understand high-consequence and emerging animal diseases and develop countermeasures like vaccines and antivirals. At the same time, APHIS will work on prevention, surveillance, diagnosis and response to new diseases. This includes managing two vaccine banks and training state and federal veterinarians to recognize livestock diseases. 

The NBAF will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York, which is more than 68 years old.

“NBAF’s Midwest location offers researchers and diagnosticians closer proximity to develop key partnerships with the animal health industry and several academic institutions,” said Alfonso Clavijo, DVM, PhD, director of NBAF. “NBAF will create opportunities between scientists and animal health companies to enhance and expedite the transition of new veterinary countermeasures from research to market to protect the nation’s agriculture if needed.”

Clavijo was named to this position in Oct. 2019

The event was attended by Vilsack, Clavijo and other federal, state and local officials, including Mark Hatesohl, mayor of Manhattan, Kan., Kansas State University President Richard Linton, PhD, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, US Sen. Jerry Moran, and former US Sen. Pat Roberts.