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News Release

Release No. 0279.05
Contact:
Angela Harless- USDA (202) 720-4623
Susan Trevino - FDA (301) 827-6244
Kirk Whitworth - DHS (202) 282-8010
FBI Press Office (202) 324-3691

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USDA, FDA, DHS AND FBI JOIN STATES AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY TO PROTECT NATION'S FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SUPPLY FROM AGROTERRORISM

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2005 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) today announced a new collaboration with states and private industry to protect the nation's food supply from terrorist threats.

"Ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply is a top priority for President Bush and USDA," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "This partnership demonstrates our commitment as government and the private sector work together to protect our agricultural commodities from terrorism. We look forward to working with our partners."

The Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism (SPPA) Initiative supports President Bush's requirements directing the government to work closely with states and industry to secure the nation's food supply. Announced today at the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council meeting, four pilot visits will be conducted in September and October. The purpose of these visits is to assess and identify vulnerabilities in the agriculture and food sectors.

"As one of the lead federal agencies charged with protecting our nation's food supply, the FDA fully supports this initiative encouraging a closer working relationship with our partners in federal and state government, as well as the private sector to make the nation's food even safer," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Lester Crawford. "This partnership brings together all of the organizations that have the best knowledge and abilities in safeguarding the food we eat starting from the farm all the way to our kitchen tables."

Over the next year, teams of federal and state officials will travel to all 50 states to meet with all sectors of the food chain. Together, the federal, state and private industry partners will discuss security issues from farm-to-table and consider ways to better protect our food supply.

"We are pleased to participate in this important initiative to enhance the overall security of our nation's food and agricultural infrastructure," said Robert Stephan, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "The health of our citizens and our economy depend on our ability to conduct assessments, validate field information and provide guidance that can be shared with our federal, state and local, tribal as well as private sector partners."

These visits will help the federal partners better consider how states and industry can protect the food supply, gain more information about the food industry's protection needs and assist government and private industry in refining its efforts including research and development goals.

This effort is the second major joint initiative for the federal partners. In May 2005, FBI, with the support of DHS, USDA and FDA hosted the first ever International Symposium for Agrosecurity in Kansas City, Mo.

Additional information about agrosecurity can be found on USDA's Web site at http://www.usda.gov/homelandsecurity; or the FDA Web site.