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Agriculture
In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the old Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island with a facility on the U.S. mainland to study Foot and Mouth Disease and other dangerous pathogens. Kansas won the job in 2008, with a site on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan.But today, more than three years later, the proposed $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility faces funding obstacles, safety questions, rising costs and political fallout. For Kansas and the Midwest, the stakes couldn’t be higher.Here you’ll find coverage and updates from Harvest Public Media, KCUR and Kansas Public Media.

Committee Approves Money For Bio-Defense Lab

Kansas City, MO – Legislation to fund construction of a federal research lab in Kansas has moved forward. Federal officials chose Manhattan, Kansas late last year as the site for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

The lab will study animal diseases that could be used to attack the nation's food supply. Lawmakers working to hammer out differences between House and Senate legislation yesterday agreed on more than $30 million in construction funding for the project. Tom Thornton is with the Kansas Bioscience Authority, a group that pushed for locating the facility in Kansas.

Thornton: "This is absolutely essential and it's nothing but fantastic news. This is a tangible sign of support for the project and a tangible sign for the project in Kansas."

The legislation requires certain safety studies to be completed prior to construction. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is part of the conference committee that approved the bill. Brownback spokesperson Brian Hart says the studies won't hinder the project.

Hart: "It was a part of the timeline all along. It was always a part of the plan to do the studies for safety, which will begin fairly quickly after funding is released and will not slow the timeline down for construction at all."

The legislation will next go before the full House and Senate. The lab could provide around 500 jobs in Kansas. Construction on the $650 million facility is slated to start in 2010, with the lab opening in 2015.

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