An architectural rendering of the proposed NBAF lab in Manhattan, Kan. (Courtesy Department of Homeland Security)
Supporters of a high security bio-defense facility at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., got some depressing news today.
The White House budget for 2013 cuts funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) from $50 million to $10 million.
The White House document explains it will undertake what it calls a “comprehensive assessment of the project in 2012” and says it plans to consider “the cost, safety, and any alternatives to the current plan.”
Many see the news as a big backward step for the proposed lab, but advocates aren't ready to give up. Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said he still believes NBAF will be a reality.
"The question is how quickly," Huelskamp said. "This has always been a multi-year project. And the state's been a 100 percent partner in this deal all along and we're going to continue to press forward both at the state and federal level."
A spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget said the president asked for $150 million for NBAF in the current fiscal year but received only $50 million from Congress. That's not enough to press forward, she said.
NBAF detractors have questioned the need for the facility and some have objected to its placement in the heart of the Midwest’s agricultural region.
The Department of Homeland Security’s website puts a positive spin on the NBAF news, saying it still plans to accelerate research programs at Kansas State focused on African Swine Fever and Classical Swine Fever.