Kentucky Ag. Commissioner Urges Vigilance to Prevent Agri-terrorism

As the United States fights a war in Iraq and a larger war against terrorism around the globe, Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith is calling upon farmers and farm businesses to do their part to secure the nation's food supply.

"Since Sept. 11, 2001, agro-terrorism--malicious and intentional acts intended to disrupt our food supply--has become a new word in our vocabularies, and bio-security has grown in importance on the farm," Commissioner Smith said. "We are now on Orange Alert, and this means our farmers and agribusinesses must take precautions and put into place preventative measures. After all, our farmers are the first line of defense for America's safe, abundant and affordable food supply." Commissioner Smith offers these suggestions:

* Routinely check livestock and crops for unusual changes.
* Inspect all feed, equipment, chemicals and other inputs for signs of tampering.
* Develop backup water and feed sources.
* Practice operation shutdown, quarantine and evacuation procedures.
* Know all your employees, monitor visitors, and ask strangers for
photo identification.
* Keep anhydrous ammonia tanks secured.
* Keep supplies of ammonium nitrate and urea secured.
* Schedule and monitor all deliveries and maintenance.
* Control access to your operation and decide which areas are
off-limits to visitors.
* Limit access to storage areas.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is working alongside other state and federal agencies to develop safeguards and security for Kentucky and its people. Department officials have participated in tabletop exercises with agriculture leaders from other states to address a mock disaster. Department employees have also accumulated real-life, in-the-field experience with large-scale outbreaks of animal diseases in other states and countries.

The "Kentucky Agricultural Emergency Plan" is available to the public at no charge. Produced by the KDA, the 32-page booklet explains in clear, simple terms how local, state and federal agencies work together to address environmental emergencies, protect public health, and respond to animal health issues. It provides a comprehensive list of emergency telephone numbers.

The booklet is available online at the KDA Web site, by calling the Department toll free at 1-888-567-9589, or from your local agriculture Extension agent. The Department also offers a free sign that reminds farmers and farm workers of steps they can take to reduce the risk of disease and agro-terrorism. The plastic signs are designed to withstand the weather elements so they can be posted at strategic locations on the farm. They are printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other. The signs may be obtained at county Extension offices, stockyards and farm supply businesses throughout the state or by contacting the Department of Agriculture.