A bill that aims to strengthen the nation’s preparedness of its food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and other high-risk events through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was recently signed into law by President Trump.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. David Young (R-IA) and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).
The Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act requires the DHS Secretary, through the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, to ensure food, agriculture, animal, and human health sectors receive appropriate attention and are also integrated into the DHS’s domestic preparedness policy initiatives.
The legislation specifically addresses issues seen after the 2015 avian influenza outbreak, which killed millions of turkeys, backyard flocks, and layer hens. It was the deadliest outbreak of avian influenza in Iowa’s history.
Response efforts for the outbreak brought to light a variety of concerns, specifically regarding the government’s ability to communicate with stakeholders and react quickly to large-scale animal disease epidemics. A number of farmers, producers and agriculture experts also questioned whether the nation could capably share information and respond to agro-terrorism threats and attacks.
“Our nation faces global and complex national security challenges. Agro-terrorism, and other high-risk events, pose serious threats to our food, agriculture, and livestock industries across the United States,” Roberts said. “It is imperative to have preparedness policies in place to quickly respond to events threatening U.S. agriculture or food production systems – ultimately protecting these key industries which impact every Americans on a daily basis.”