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Sunday, October 1st, 2023

House bill aims to ensure safety of nation’s food supply from agro-terrorism

U.S. Reps. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), David Young (R-IA) and Dan Donovan (R-NY) recently introduced a bill to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply by combating the threat of potential agro-terrorism.

The Securing our Agriculture and Food Act would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to lead the federal effort in protecting the nation’s food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against both terrorism and high-risk events.

Specifically, the legislation authorizes the secretary to collaborate with various agencies to ensure that the agriculture, animal health, and human health sectors are integrated into the department’s domestic preparedness policy initiatives.

“Any attack on our food supply could have devastating consequences on our economy and our communities, so it’s essential that we mitigate against potential threats,” Payne said. “With this bill, we are addressing critical security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.”

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently approved a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, which will serve as a biocontainment laboratory for the study of diseases that threaten the nation’s animal agricultural industry and public health. DHS said the facility will help with research initiatives, vaccine development, diagnose emerging diseases and train veterinarians. The facility will begin operations in 2022.