Agro-Terror, Food Supply Risks Addressed in First Responder Funding Bill

The Committee on Homeland Security will fully consider the terrorist threat to U.S. food supplies as it develops legislation to effectively distribute funds to firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, and other homeland security officials, said U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Management, Integration and Oversight and also serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

"The status quo simply does not serve our security needs," Rogers said. "The first responder legislation … will target funding where it can most effectively reduce the probability and consequence of terrorist attack, including the prevention and mitigation of attacks on our food supply. We must direct our resources at the greatest risks, accounting not just for population, but also for potential terrorist targets such as food supplies and agricultural resources in our rural areas as well."

The terrorist threat to agriculture received heightened attention when Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson said upon his resignation, Dec. 3, 2004, that "for the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it's easy to do."

Homeland Security Chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) introduced the committee's risk-based first responder legislation on April 12, 2005. That same day, the Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology held a hearing titled, "The Need for Grant Reform and the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act of 2005."

Among the witnesses who discussed risk to agriculture were David Miller of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division; Secretary Bryan Beatty of the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety; and Director Michael Chapman of the Missouri Office of Homeland Security.

A second panel included witnesses from the DHS Inspector General's Office, the Government Accountability Office and the American Enterprise Institute.

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