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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.

Kansas Moves Agriculture Department To Manhattan

The Kansas Secretary of Agriculture says he’s moving most of state Agriculture Department to Manhattan. Secretary Dale Rodman says the agriculture in Kansas will benefit from being part of what he’s calling “the synergies” between Kansas State University and a burgeoning animal and plant science industry.

The move will allow the Kansas department to work more closely and avoid redundancies with bioscience research and commerce already going on in Manhattan.

The new facility will become a pillar in the KSU Foundation Research Park, according to a release from the Ag Department.

Spokesman Mary Geiger says the Secretary sees Manhattan, with its focus on animal and plant science, as a new agriculture hub.

“Locating the Department of Agriculture adjacent to the land grant university and all those bioscience industries will only enhance our ability to deliver to our customers across the state,” says Geiger.

Geiger says the new federal animal disease lab known as National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is another draw. 

“Governor Brownback and Secretary Rodman see a huge potential to grow animal agriculture in the state, and that includes not only the production but also the security and defense of those important sectors,” says Geiger.

Congress has been slow to fund the lab, which still has many critics. 

The Kansas State University Research Foundation will build the new department, which is expected to make the move in just over a year. Administrative offices will remain in Topeka.

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