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National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Tour Informs Pork Industry Representatives

Presentations by the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility directors and research leaders, in addition to touring the facility, provided important insight into potential collaboration opportunities to pork industry representatives who share a mission to protect US swine herd health. "Seeing the facility firsthand provided a valuable opportunity to learn about future capabilities, capacity, and priorities relating to US swine health," remarked SHIC Associate Director Dr. Megan Niederwerder. The group also visited the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University and heard from leadership there before receiving a tour.

In early April 2023, NBAF provided the facility and research update to staff leaders from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, and the Swine Health Information Center. USDA will own and operate the Manhattan, Kansas, state-of-the-art NBAF facility they term a national asset, intended to help protect the nation's agriculture industry, farmers, and citizens against the threat and potential impact of serious animal diseases.

"With the mission of NBAF to protect the US against animal diseases that threaten our food supply, agricultural economy and public health, the pork industry has significant interests in the science planned for this world-class facility," commented Dr. Lisa Becton, director of swine health, National Pork Board.

Per the USDA website, NBAF will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a biosafety level-3 facility that is more than 68 years old. When complete, USDA Agricultural Research Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will transfer their research and diagnostic missions to NBAF and will jointly operate the facility. In December 2022, contractor construction and commissioning were completed. The USDA team at NBAF currently has access to the facility and started a phase of transition from Plum Island Animal Disease Center to the new site.

Comprehensive research, development of vaccines and antivirals, as well as enhanced diagnostic and training capabilities will all occur at NBAF to protect the nation from foreign or transboundary animal diseases. Emerging (new or increasing) and zoonotic (able to infect animals and humans) diseases will be a focus.

The NBAF Frequently Asked Questions web page includes information from the World Health Organization which states more than 70% of new and emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic. The FAQs also say, USDA will expand its scientific work at NBAF and be the first in the US to provide maximum biocontainment (biosafety level-4) laboratories capable of housing veterinary diagnostics, countermeasures and vaccines. Through these initiatives, USDA will be able to expand its support of global health and food security.

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