Kansas Cattlemen's Association decries proposed biodefense facility

The proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, has received little support from members of the Kansas Cattlemen's Association.

According to a limited survey of members of the cattlemen's association, 75 percent of survey respondents supported biosecurity research but felt that Manhattan, with its importance as the heart of cattle country, was not the correct place for a federal laboratory that will study Foot and Mouth Disease, KCUR.org reports.

Foot and Mouth disease is an extremely contagious virus that infects cloven-hoofed animals. An outbreak would potentially shut down the domestic and export livestock markets.

Only a small percentage of the association's 2,000 members returned the survey, according to Brandy Carter, the group's executive director and CEO, the she said that the vote reflects growing concerns about the lab.

"If Foot and Mouth Disease gets out, it will destroy us," Carter said, according to KCUR.org.

As an alternative to the proposed lab, the association has continued to favor the renovation of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located off of the coast of New York. Historically, Plum Island has been the only lab where Foot and Mouth was legally researched.

Despite opposition to the lab, the Department of Homeland Service signed a land transfer agreement with the state of Kansas at the start of January for the planned site of the lab.