More than $43 million in state grants and cooperative agreements has been made available by the Department of Agriculture to strengthen food and agricultural homeland security protections.
The funds are part of $328 million approved by President Bush and Congress earlier this year to bolster the USDA's security preparedness.
"States and local communities, along with academia and the private sector, are critical partners in making sure we are prepared in the event of an emergency," said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman when she announced the funding release May 30 at a meeting of farmers in Detroit.
The $43 million will go toward efforts to bolster the food supply infrastructure. Of that, $20.6 million will be provided to certain state and university cooperators to establish a network of diagnostic laboratories distributed strategically throughout the country (see JAVMA, March 1, 2002, page 575). This will permit rapid and accurate diagnosis of animal diseases.
Funding for the network went to nine states, with Florida and New York receiving the most at $1.65 million each.
Fourteen million dollars will be used to enhance states' capabilities to respond to animal disease emergencies, primarily by helping them meet the national standards established by the National Animal Health Emergency Management System.
State-level surveillance will be aided by a $4.5 million appropriation, and $4.3 million will be used to help states improve their capability to detect plant pests and diseases.
Earlier this year, Veneman announced additional homeland security allocations, including funding for physical and operational improvements at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, and at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
The department's Food Safety and Inspection Service had also received further appropriations to increase monitoring, training, and expanded technical capabilities, as well hire more inspectors for imported meat and poultry.
The Agricultural Research Service received funding to improve rapid detection technologies for foot-and-mouth disease and other animal diseases.
The USDA has requested more than $150 million for additional homeland security protections in the fiscal 2003 budget. Additional information on the department's homeland security initiatives is available at www.usda.gov/homelandsecurity.