Contact: USDA Office of Communication (202) 720-4623
Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623
USDA CONTINUES TO STEP UP HOMELAND SECURITY EFFORTS
Veneman Outlines Increased Efforts to Strengthen Federal, State Coordination
WASHINGTON, April 30, 2002---Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today outlined areas where the Department of Agriculture continues to strengthen homeland security
planning and preparedness.
Veneman announced that USDA has allocated $43 million to assist states increase homeland security preparedness through grants and federal/state partnerships.
In testimony before the Senate
Appropriations Committee, Veneman discussed how USDA is spending $328 million allocated to the department through the Defense Appropriations Supplemental signed by President Bush in January.
As well, the Secretary outlined proposed increased spending in USDA's FY2003 budget, which would provide record support for pest and disease protection systems and food safety programs.
"Following September 11th
, we took immediate steps to secure sensitive facilities and examine vulnerabilities throughout the food chain," said Veneman.
"Today we remain vigilant and are strongly committed in working with the Congress, states, other federal agencies, academia and the private sector to make sure
we have a strong line of defense to protect American agriculture against potential threats."
The following is a breakdown of key biosecurity enhancements that are being implemented through resources provided through the Defense Appropriations Supplemental:
$177 million to make physical and
operational security improvements at key USDA locations.
This includes $64 million at the animal disease center in Ames, Iowa to relocate labs from leased space into the main Ames campus.
In addition, it supports construction of a biosecurity level 3 large animal facility.
$23 million for USDA's Plum Island laboratory, pending an independent review of the critical needs and options for the facility.
$35 million to strengthen the Agricultural Quarantine
Inspection program to exclude agricultural pests and diseases at the borders.
These funds are being used to expedite development of an automated system of inspections in coordination with the U.S> Customs Service.
As well, USDA is purchasing 100 rapid pathogen identification devices and hire additional inspection personnel.
$16.5 million for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to increase monitoring, provide training to inspectors and expand technical
$1.5 million of these funds are being used to hire additional inspectors for imported meat and poultry.
$15.3 million for the Agricultural Research Service to improve rapid detection technologies for foot and mouth diseases as well as other animal diseases.
$43 million in grants and other assistance to states for improved coordination and homeland security protections and preparedness.
Veneman said the $43 million to support state activities will help states improve surveillance, early detection and
response capability for animal and plant pests and diseases.
In addition the funding will enhance the agricultural infrastructure for rapid detection and diagnosis of animal and plant diseases and pest threats and increase capacity to dispose of animal carcasses in the event of a major disease outbreak.
"States are important partners in homeland security efforts and an important link to our ability to respond to intentional and unintentional threats to agriculture," Veneman said.
"These funds are strengthening our partnerships and coordination activities."
During her testimony, Veneman also noted that President Bush's FY 2003 budget requests increased funding to enhance the agricultural infrastructure and further enhance homeland security. (See USDA , 1/31/03)
"If approved by Congress, the budget would bring our funding and staffing at ports of entry to record levels, more than doubling the number from where we were just three years ago. In addition, the
Administration's budget would provide record level support for the nation's food safety protection systems."
For more information on USDA's homeland security efforts, visit: