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Homeland Security

National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

Threats to U.S. Food and Animal Agriculture

The United States’ food and animal agriculture supply is a highly integrated, open, global and complex infrastructure. Increased imports of agricultural products and growing numbers of international travelers to and from the United States have had positive effects, but have also opened our food and agricultural supply to possible foreign animal disease outbreaks. The recent global H1N1 outbreak and other regional foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks have demonstrated the vulnerabilities present when there is a lack of available vaccines, countermeasures and other rapid response capabilities to curb an outbreak. The food and agriculture industry is a significant contributor to U.S. economic prosperity; therefore, the loss of a significant food market would have dire economic and potentially human health consequences.

Current and previous Administrations have affirmed these threats and the need to prepare and respond through Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9: Defense of United States Agriculture and Food (January 2004) and the National Security Strategy for Countering Biological Threats (November 2009). In addition, the Congressional report, The Clock Is Ticking, pointed to the likelihood of biological threats and advised the United States to “strengthen our resilience by developing the capability to produce vaccines and therapeutics rapidly and inexpensively.” To supply the needed capabilities, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have the joint responsibility to protect the nation’s animal agriculture and public health from these threats. DHS is leading these efforts through the construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas.

NBAF Site: Manhattan, Kansas

Manhattan, Kansas was selected as the NBAF location after an extensive three-year site selection process that included a thorough risk assessment environmental impact assessment, and security assessment. The Manhattan location puts the NBAF in proximity to research of NBAF-related missions in veterinary, agriculture and bio-security research expertise, and resources. This location also puts NBAF in proximity to a major hub of the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. The NBAF will be built on a site on Kansas State University adjacent to the existing Biosecurity Research Institute.

Read more about the NBAF site location in Manhattan, Kansas.

NBAF Mission and Research

NBAF will be a state-of-the-art biocontainment facility for the study of foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic (transmitted from animals to humans) diseases that threaten the U.S. animal agriculture and public health. NBAF will provide and strengthen our nation with critical capabilities to conduct research, develop vaccines and other countermeasures, and train veterinarians in preparedness and response against these diseases. For the past 50 years, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) has served our nation as the primary facility to conduct this research. However, PIADC is nearing the end of its life-cycle and needs to be replaced in order to meet U.S. research requirements and ensure the timely development of countermeasures in the event of an outbreak. NBAF meets that need and will serve as a replacement for the PIADC facility. Strategically, NBAF will boast new and expanded capabilities, specifically, large animal biosafety level 4 (ABSL-4) containment for the study of high-consequence diseases affecting large livestock.

Specifically, NBAF will meet its mission by:

  • Providing enhanced research capabilities to diagnose foreign animals, emerging and zoonotic diseases in large livestock
  • Providing expanded vaccine and countermeasure development capabilities for large livestock
  • Replacing and expanding research currently done at the PIADC in New York, and continuing the partnership between DHSand the USDA Animal Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

NBAF rests on a strategic partnership between DHS and USDA. These agencies set research priorities based on threats to animal agriculture, and conduct risk assessments, gap analysis and other necessary evaluations to protect our nation from threats to our animal agriculture and public health. Within the facility, DHS and USDA will continue the work of PIADC at NBAF to conduct research, diagnostics, vaccine development and testing, and training in preparedness and response for veterinary and animal agricultural specialists.

Facility Information

The NBAF will be a state of the art laboratory with critical research adjacencies for DHS and USDA to carry out their unique and congruent missions. NBAF will contain 574,000 gross square feet of facility space which includes BSL-2, 3 and 4 shared research space for the development of vaccines and other countermeasures. Approximately 10 percent of the space will be for BSL-4 research.

Read more about the laboratory biosafety levels and definition of terms used in the NBAF discussion.

NBAF Project Timeline and Transition from Plum Island

The timeline for designing, constructing and operating the NBAF is as follows:

NBAF Timeline

Environmental Impact Study

Determine Suitability of the Kansas Site


Record of Decision

Complete Site Selection



Develop Detailed Design


Site Preparation

Prepare Site for Construction


CUP Construction

Complete Construction of Central Utility Plant

October 2015

Laboratory Construction

Begin Construction of Main Laboratory Facility



Complete Facility Commissioning


Select Agent Registration

Receive Select Agent Permit


Mission Transition

Complete Transition from Plum Island


* Planned dates that are subject to change.

Project Documentation

The Department of Homeland Security is committed to open communication and providing stakeholders with access to pertinent information and relevant documentation regarding the planning, design, construction and operation of the NBAF.


DHS is fully committed to providing the public access to information about the NBAF and opportunities for involvement.  Please send inquiries to the following address:

NBAF Program Manager
Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, DC 20528-0217



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