Cattlemen Graze Over New Lab
At first the Missouri Cattlemen's association said yes to a high security research facility. Now the association has officially withdrawn support after researching the potential risks.
"We looked at the transportation of livestock in this state. And where this new lab was proposed to be built, if there was a breach, it would effectively shut down the major transportation routes," said Jeff Windett, Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattleman's Association.
The national Bio and Agro Defense facility would be on New Haven road just off of Highway 63 near the AC exit. A major factor in the decision is the traffic between Highway 63 and Interstate 70, two of the major routes for transporting cattle through Missouri. But the cattlemen are also worried about how close it is to 63 and 70.
Community members also have concerns about how close it would be to New Haven Elementary School and several residential neighbordhoods.
The University of Missouri is volunteering the land for the facility. MU understands the risks, but says it is an opportunity to be involved in important research.
"As the state's flagship, land grant university, it's our duty and our charge to investigate all the different types of diseases that are out there," said Christian Basi of the MU News Bureau.
The National Bio and Agro Defense Lab would study diseases like Foot and Mouth and West Nile. Even with intense research on harmful viruses, the cattlemen say there's more than just a physical risk.
"The psychological aspect of what it can do to markets is a whole nother aspect that would touch producers far and beyond where the disease is located," said Windett.
One of the important things to remember is Columbia is one of seventeen proposed sites. Originally the list of finalist cities was due out July 1. The Department of Homeland Security has not announced the finalists and did not return phone calls made on Tuesday. Even if Columbia makes the final list, there is still a year long approval process before the city sees a final decision.