Officials from USDA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) signed an agreement last week formally outlining how ownership and operational responsibility for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will be transferred. When completed, the federal facility in Manhattan will be a biosafety level-4 laboratory capable of safely studying diseases that threaten agriculture and public health. It will replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York.
Under the agreement, DHS retains responsibility for completing construction and commissioning of the $1.25 billion facility, while USDA will assume responsibility for all planning and eventual operation. NBAF is on schedule and on budget to be completed in December 2020. Commissioning is expected to be complete in May 2021, when ownership formally will be transferred to USDA.