Agricultural Security and Emergency Preparedness: Protecting One of America's Critical Infrastructures

According to Stephen M. Apatow, President and Director of Research and Development, of the nonprofit organization Humanitarian Resource Institute, agriculture represents one of America's critical infrastructures that require a domestic preparedness program to protect an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars that directly or indirectly employs millions of people. The challenge of domestic preparedness encompasses an immediate need for a heightened state of awareness of the present threat facing the agricultural sector as a potential terrorist target in conjunction with a unified collaborative strategic plan and commitment of government, livestock industries, farmer's organizations and the general public to protect the U.S. Agricultural System.

(PRWEB) April 15, 2005 -- As the U.S. agricultural security discussion intensifies, Colonel Randall J. Larsen, USAF (Ret), Founder and CEO Homeland Security Associates (Former Chairman, Department of Military Strategy and Operations at the National War College and Founder, ANSER Institute of Homeland Security), LLC, Before the Committee on the Budget United States House of Representatives, National and Homeland Security: Meeting the Needs, February 16, 2005 (www.house.gov/budget/hearings/larsenstmnt021605.htm):

"Just ask Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS). He played the role of the President in Crimson Sky, and had to order the killing of 50 million cloven hoofed animals to get the foot and mouth disease (FMD) epidemic under control.

Mr. Chairman, your state, Iowa, is the prime target for agro-terror, one of the most likely biothreats. The animal most susceptible to FMD is the hog. FMD will spread through a feedlot like a prairie fire through dry grassland. Iowa has 5.3 hogs for every human being--the most dense concentration of hogs in the US. FMD will not harm humans, but it would be an economic and environmental disaster for not only your state, but the entire nation. Just think, what would you do with 50 million carcasses?"

Agriculture represents one of America's critical infrastructures that require a domestic preparedness program to protect an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars that directly or indirectly employs millions of people.

The challenge of domestic preparedness encompasses an immediate need for a heightened state of awareness of the present threat facing the agricultural sector as a potential terrorist target in conjunction with a unified collaborative strategic plan and commitment of government, livestock industries, farmer's organizations and the general public to protect the U.S. Agricultural System.

Introduction
The threat of biological weapons and potential for terrorists to disrupt economies and societies by introducing pathogens into the food supply and livestock is now being taken seriously by government agencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has in place an overall biosecurity system designed to prevent the harmful introduction of plant and animal pathogens into America's system of agriculture and food production. Biosecurity and biocontainment are words describing programs for infectious disease control that (1) reduce/prevent the introduction of new diseases onto an operation from outside sources and (2) reduce/prevent the movement of infectious diseases on the operation. Since September 11, all USDA inspectors have been placed on heightened alert at ports of entry and in meat and poultry slaughter and processing plants, and security has been increased at appropriate USDA facilities.

The strength and value of the U.S. food and agricultural system makes it a potential terrorist target. The agricultural sector accounts for some 13% of U.S. gross national product with one eighth of all American jobs connected to agriculture, either directly or indirectly.

From the farm to the table, USDA has in place biosecurity measures designed to protect against all animal and plant pathogens. USDA is also closely coordinating with other federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Customs Service, and law enforcement agencies on biosecurity issues. Communications, training and outreach continues with state and local agriculture agencies, as well as appropriate industry representatives.

According to a report by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a division within the USDA, at the 2001 American Veterinary Medical Association Convention, there are approximately 150 foreign animal diseases APHIS is concerned with keeping out of the United States. On an average day, 1.3 million people enter the country, along with 38,000 animals. In fiscal year 2000, 14 million animals were imported, mostly from Mexico and Canada.

To access the entire paper "Agricultural Security and Emergency Preparedness: Protecting One of America's Critical Infrastructures," visit: www.humanitarian.net/biodefense/papers/ASEP-2001-12.html

Stephen M. Apatow, President and Director of Research and Development, of the nonprofit organization Humanitarian Resource Institute, is a specialist in strategic planning and project development of initiatives associated with human medicine, veterinary medicine and U.S. and international law. Current programs include the internet based Biodefense Reference Library, Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, Bioinformatics: Pathobiological Diagnostics Center and Biodefense Legal Reference Library. Educational resource development for the veterinary and medical community include the Foreign Animal Disease Online Course and the Zoonotic Disease Online Review. To enhance collaboration between Humanitarian Resource Institute and the international community of scholars, the Humanitarian University Consortium was formed to enhance the development of initiatives associated with economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues worldwide.

Related Information:
International Veterinary Public Health Consortium hosted by Pathobiologics International, the consulting arm of Humanitarian Resource Institute and the Humanitarian University Consortium, World Veterinary Association. Available at: www.worldvet.org/Article2085.phtml

Impact of the Foot and Mouth Epidemic on the Equestrian Industry in the UK - A Reference Point for the United States." HRIBRL Discussion Paper FMDEI-2001-12, Humanitarian Resource Institute, December 2001. Available at: www.humanitarian.net/biodefense/papers/FMDEI-2001-12.html

Producers and Producer Organizations Overlooked in Contingency Planning Discussions on Biosecurity: Pathobiologics International, 5 November 2003. Available at: http://www.pathobiologics.org/avbc_biosecurity2003.html

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/4/prweb229533.htm