The Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday announced committee passage of legislation to support agro-biodefense. 

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, says the legislation means “we are one step closer to securing a more robust defense of our nation’s agriculture and food supply.” 

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Act of 2019 would authorize the Agriculture Secretary to use the facility as a national security laboratory protecting agriculture and food. 

The bill directs NBAF to carry out the relevant objectives of a Homeland Security Presidential Directive and the National Biodefense Strategy, both aimed at securing the nation’s food and agriculture. 

The $1.25 billion facility in Manhattan, Kansas, is expected to be operational by 2022-2023. 

Ranking member of the Committee, Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, says the legislation is “important in the critical effort to help safeguard our food supply from animal diseases and intentional threats.” 

The bill also outlines the national security mission of the facility and the duties of the agencies responsible for implementing the mission.