NBAF: Cattle Farmers Show Skepticism

US - Although he makes no promises, the dean of agriculture at Kansas State University says he thinks a new federal laboratory to study livestock diseases is no threat to their herds.
calendar icon 16 February 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

According to AgWeek, Fred Cholick, who spoke at the recent Kansas Cattlemen’s Convention, says he would not be afraid to live next door to the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, which is expected to open on the Kansas State campus in five or six years.

“I wouldn’t be concerned if my brother-in-law had a beef and sheep operation next to it,” Mr Cholick says.

The government made the best choice when it chose the Kansas State campus as the site for the $450 million, ultra-secure laboratory, Mr Cholick says.

“We do have the expertise, vision and passion to protect the food industry,” he says.

The cattlemen’s group, based in Junction City, Kansas, wants the lab to stay at its current site in Plum Island, New York. Now that it will be built in Manhattan, Kan. KCA members intend to learn more.

“When something happens, we want to make sure there’s protection for producers,” Mr Carter says.

Cattlemen are concerned about building a lab that researches many of the most deadly diseases for animals, including foot-and-mouth disease, and some that could infect humans, such as West Nile virus.

No strains that can be passed between humans will be researched at the laboratory.

The group plans to take its concerns to the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Agriculture.

“It depends on the answers we get. We will take it to Congress,” Mr Carter says.

When asked about compensation if herds, or the food system, are contaminated, Mr Cholick says he doesn’t know.

“I just don’t have an answer for you about liability,” Mr Cholick says.

Cattleman also are concerned about potential flooding or a possible terrorist attack on the lab.

And Paul W. Henningsen of Wamego, Kansas, is curious as to whether a foot-and-mouth disease could be stopped or if such a scenario would lead to stopping cattle from Mexico to the United States.

Mr Cholick says the NBAF will look at the migration of disease and how to reduce the effects.

“We can’t build a wall around us. We have to understand the organisms and develop countermeasures. It’s an approach we need to take,” Mr Cholick says.

John Edwards, a cattleman from Hamilton, Kansas, recalls his grandfather’s stories about a case of foot-and-mouth disease that required the killing, burning and burying of livestock in the early 20thcentury.

“We went through this once, fellers. Let’s not let it happen again,” Mr Edwards says.

Further Reading

- You can find out more information about the National Bio and Agro-Defence Facility (NBAF) by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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