Homeland Security: Much Is Being Done to Protect Agriculture from a Terrorist Attack, but Important Challenges Remain: GAO-05-214

Robinson, Robert A.
March 2005
GAO Reports;3/8/2005, p1
Government Documents
U.S. agriculture generates more than $1 trillion per year in economic activity and provides an abundant food supply for Americans and others. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, there are new concerns about the vulnerability of U.S. agriculture to the deliberate introduction of animal and plant diseases (agroterrorism). Several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Defense (DOD), play a role in protecting the nation against agroterrorism. GAO examined (1) the federal agencies' roles and responsibilities to protect against agroterrorism, (2) the steps that the agencies have taken to manage the risks of agroterrorism, and (3) the challenges and problems that remain. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, federal agencies' roles and responsibilities were modified in several ways to help protect agriculture from an attack. First, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established DHS and, among other things, charged it with coordinating U.S. efforts to protect against agroterrorism. The act also transferred a number of agency personnel and functions into DHS to conduct planning, response, and recovery efforts. Second, the President signed a number of presidential directives that further define agencies' specific roles in protecting agriculture. Finally, Congress passed legislation that expanded the responsibilities of USDA and HHS in relation to agriculture security. In carrying out these new responsibilities, USDA and other federal agencies have taken a number of actions. The agencies are coordinating development of plans and protocols to better manage the national response to terrorism, including agroterrorism, and, along with several states, have conducted exercises to test these new protocols and their response capabilities. Federal agencies also have been conducting vulnerability assessments of the agriculture infrastructure; have created networks of laboratories capable of diagnosing animal, plant, and human diseases; have begun efforts to develop a national veterinary stockpile that intends to include vaccines against foreign animal diseases; and have created new federal emergency coordinator positions to help states develop emergency response plans for the agriculture sector. However, the United States still faces complex challenges that limit the nation's ability to respond effectively to an attack against livestock. For example, USDA would not be able to deploy animal vaccines within 24 hours of an outbreak as called for in a presidential directive, in part because the only vaccines currently stored in the United States are for strains of foot and mouth disease, and these vaccines need to be sent to the United Kingdom (U.K.) to be activated for use. There are also management problems that inhibit the effectiveness of agencies' efforts to protect against agroterrorism. For instance, since the transfer of agricultural inspectors from USDA to DHS in 2003, there have been fewer inspections of agricultural products at the nation's ports of entry.


Related Articles

  • Nation's Agroterrorism Response Capability Panned. Rutherford, Burt // BEEF Exclusive Insight;9/16/2011, p7 

    The article discusses the defense of the U.S. food and agricultural systems against terrorist attacks. Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-9), issued by then president George Bush in 2004, had the Homeland Security Council (HSC) overseeing its implementation. In 2009, the efforts of...

  • Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Transmitting Budget Amendments. Bush, George W. // Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents;7/25/2005, Vol. 41 Issue 29, p1177 

    Presents a letter from U.S. President George W. Bush to the Speaker of the House of Representatives requesting to consider the proposed Fiscal Year 2006 budget amendments for the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, International Assistance...

  • Executive Order 13241--Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Agriculture. Bush, George W. // Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents;12/31/2001, Vol. 37 Issue 52, p1836 

    Presents the text of an executive order approved by U.S. President George W. Bush on December 18, 2002, which deals with the provision of an order of succession within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Staying Wholesome on the Home Front/ Feds seek hike in food safety budget and bioterrorism regulations.  // Dairy Field;Mar2003, Vol. 186 Issue 3, p12 

    Focuses on U.S. President George W. Bush's seeking of an increase in the Department of Agriculture's 2004 food safety budget to strengthen protection against harmful bacteria in food and increase security in laboratories. Goal of agency to reduce and eventually eliminate the need for recalls;...

  • Memorandum on Delegation of Certain Reporting Authority. Bush, George W. // Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents;12/13/2004, Vol. 40 Issue 50, p2928 

    Presents the memorandum given by U.S. President George W. Bush for the Secretary of Agriculture regarding the delegation of certain reporting authority, delivered on December 8, 2004. Legislation that determines the functions of the secretary to provide the specified report to the Congress.

  • Johanns New Ag Secretary.  // Cotton Grower;Jan2005, Vol. 41 Issue 1, p8 

    This article reports that Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns will be United States Department of Agriculture secretary under President George W. Bush's second term.

  • Bush, USDA Helping Minorities.  // USA Today Magazine;Apr2004, Vol. 132 Issue 2707, p14 

    Cites the focus of U.S. President George W. Bush and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on helping minority owned firms. Estimated number of jobs that the USDA will create and save in 2004; Hope of the USDA to increase the number of minority homeowners.

  • Schafer tapped for USDA.  // BEEF;Dec2007, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p7 

    The article reports on the nomination of North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) by President George W. Bush. Schafer, who has served as governor for 1992-2000, has been the chief executive officer (CEO) of Extend American company, a wireless...

  • Ag mulls budget cut pain levels.  // Western Farm Press;3/26/2005, Vol. 27 Issue 10, p1 

    Focuses on the proposed budget cut of U.S. President George W. Bush in the farm program. Impact of the budget cut on the California cotton industry; Reduction in pay limit; Purpose of the budget cut.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics