Statement By Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman Regarding the Completion of the National Response Plan
Jan. 6, 2005
"The National Response Plan, unveiled today by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, continues the Bush Administration's commitment to strengthen homeland security protections, including in the food and agriculture sector. The National Response Plan will serve as a guide to coordinate between Federal, state, local and tribal governments, along with critical partners in the private sector to ensure we are prepared in the event of an emergency to respond quickly and effectively.
"Following September 11th, we took immediate steps to develop a single unified management plan for all USDA emergency response and recovery activities. In March 2003, USDA implemented the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS), unifying emergency response and recovery efforts under one management system for the first time in USDA history.
"USDA has a long history of leadership in managing natural disasters, such as wildfires. Building on the system successfully used by USDA's Forest Service for decades, in March 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which outlines a standard incident management structure called the Incident Command System and includes five functional areas - command, operations, planning, logistics and finance/administration.
"In June 2004 USDA launched web based National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) training programs available to all USDA employees. With offices in almost every county in the nation, many USDA employees serve as first responders in their local communities. USDA used NIIMS/ICS on the ground to assist in the Columbia Shuttle recovery and managing such incidents as Exotic Newcastle Disease in 2003 and Avian Influenza, marshalling additional tactical resources to support functional areas while focusing technical resources- veterinarians, epidemiologists, scientists and economists- on immediate and longer-term impacts of the incident.
"Today we remain vigilant and are strongly committed in working with all critical partners to make sure we have a strong line of defense to protect American agriculture against potential threats.
The ICS training courses are available through AgLearn, USDA's web-based Agriculture Learning Management System at http://www.aglearn.usda.gov/