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11:42 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Kansas Cattlemen Reject Proposed Biosecurity Lab

A limited survey of members of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association has found little support for building the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan.

Three-fourths of the survey respondents said that they supported research on biosecurity but did not believe Manhattan – in the heart of cattle country – was the place for the federal laboratory that would research Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The extremely contagious virus can infect cloven-hooved animals; an outbreak could shut down the domestic and export livestock markets.

Brandy Carter, the association’s executive director and CEO, said only a small percentage of the group’s 2,000 members returned the survey, but she feels the vote reflects deep concern about the lab.

“If Foot and Mouth Disease gets out, it will destroy us,” Carter said in an interview.

But the survey isn’t surprising. The Kansas Cattlemen’s Association position has long favored renovating the Plum Island Animal Disease Center off the coast of New York over building a new lab on the mainland.  Plum Island historically has been the only lab where FMD could be researched legally.

That changed when lawmakers added a provision to the last farm bill allowing research of  FMD on the mainland.

Carter said the KCA would try to recruit new members of the Kansas legislature to work against the lab.

The Kansas Cattlemen have a membership of about 2,000 independent producers.