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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.

Redrawn District Adds To Animal Lab Concerns

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Eric Durban
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Harvest Public Media
The site designated to become the home of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, is on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

The beleaguered National Bio and Agro-Defense facility could face yet more challenges as a result of new congressional parameters released today by a three-judge panel.

The federal judges expanded the 1st   Congressional District to include Manhattan, home to Kansas State University and the proposed animal disease research facility. (Click HERE for a link to the new maps.) Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said he won't appeal the new maps, and knows of no other legal challenges to them, The Kansas City Star reported.

The problem is that Republican Tim Huelskamp, who represents the large 1st district of western and central Kansas, is an outspoken member of the Tea Party wing in Congress.  Although he’s consistently supported funding for NBAF, he’s also philosophically in favor of smaller federal government and has come to blows with the Republican leadership on spending issues. 

Huelskamp famously crossed U.S. House Speaker John Boehner during last year’s debt-ceiling debate, causing some NBAF advocates to wonder if the tussle could endanger future funding for the project

Steve Morris, president of the Kansas Senate, has argued that it is important for Manhattan to stay in the 2nd District, represented by Lynn Jenkins.  Jenkins also is a Tea Party supporter but has been an outspoken supporter of the NBAF.

NBAF’s total cost is now projected to be over a $1 billion, and Congress and the White House have been cautious with its funding. The 2012 the U.S. House added $75 million to the project, bringing federal funding up to $165 million.

Update 5:00pm: A spokesman for Congressman Huelskamp’s office said today in a telephone conversation  that in spite of disagreements over funding issues, the Congressman has “an open line of communication” with Speaker John Boehner.

For more NBAF coverage, visit KCUR's Tracking NBAF page.

Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR, is a collaborative public media project that reports on important agriculture issues in the Midwest. Funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Harvest Public Media has reporters at six NPR member stations in the region. To learn more, visit www.harvestpublicmedia.org, like Harvest Public Media on Facebook or follow @HarvestPM on Twitter.

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