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FEMA giving University of Tennessee $5.2 million

Dr. Thompson
Dr. Sharon Thompson

The federal government has awarded the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine more than $5 million to develop and deliver training programs involving food import and transportation safety, coordinated response to animal-related disasters, and vulnerability assessment for agricultural and food processing facilities.

The college's Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness will receive $4.7 million to develop two new programs with grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Competitive Training Grant Program. The program is providing about $27.2 million in 11 grants to government agencies, academic institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and national associations, according to information from FEMA.

The center has also received a $500,000 grant from FEMA to continue delivering an already developed Department of Homeland Security and FEMA training program on agriculture and food vulnerability assessment.

The two new grants will be spent developing and delivering training programs for use by first responders, public officials, and the private sector.

Dr. Sharon Thompson, director of the center, said the new programs relate to illness prevention and containment.

"The program related to food is intended to develop a better system of sharing information so, basically, you can prevent problems from occurring or detect them earlier on," Dr. Thompson said.

She said the other new program will help emergency responders share resources across state lines, collaborate more effectively, and make sure they have sufficient staffing to prevent and contain disasters, particularly animal disease outbreaks.

Dr. Joseph DiPietro, the university's vice president for agriculture, said in a press release that the veterinary college "takes very seriously its role in protecting public health on a national scale."