White House cuts funding for Kansas biosecurity facility
Budget cuts for 2013 made by the Obama administration on Monday, Feb. 13 put the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or the NBAF, in danger, as all construction spending for the lab was cut. The facility would be built in Manhattan, Kan.
The $1 billion project was awarded to Manhattan after a national competition in 2008 and is intended to help protect the country’s food supply from the threat of terrorism. After making the budget cuts, the White House said it would re-evaluate the plans for the facility.
The opening of the NBAF was planned for 2020, but according to The Kansas City Star, the schedule and the project itself is uncertain.
Elected Republican officials in Kansas told The Kansas City Star they were angry with the decision of the Democratic administration to cut the project’s funding.
“A needless effort to re-assess the importance of protecting our nation’s food supply is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement on Monday, Feb. 13. “This change of direction is unacceptable and will leave our country vulnerable.”
In an interview with The Kansas City Star, Rep. Tim Huelskamp criticized the budget cuts.
“Every delay means an additional time period in which we don’t have the research I believe we need to protect American agriculture,” Huelskamp said. “Food and agri-industry is about 20 percent of our economy … It’s a sound investment to protect food and agriculture.”
However, retired Kansas State University professor Tom Manney, who runs No NBAF, a group opposing the facility’s construction, told The Kansas City Star he supports the decision to cut funding.
“Our major criticism has been that the initial NBAF is not a good fit for this location, with its concentration of livestock operations, limited medical support facilities, and the congested university activities,” Manney said. “This is an opportunity for a more reasoned and balanced evaluation of what this community has to offer and stands to benefit.”