Editor’s Note: Geni Wren is Editor of Bovine Veterinarian- a sister publication of Pork.

The Honorable Asa Hutchinson, former congressman and former undersecretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, identified some threats to agriculture. As the keynote speaker for the 2010 Animal Agriculture Alliance meeting, Hutchinson talked about three areas of concern.

A partnership with the Department of Homeland Security will fail if agriculture does not identify threats and protect itself, he said. If an activist can get employment in your plant, a terrorist can as well. “If there was a threat tomorrow in the animal processing industry and Homeland Security said there was a threat, what can you do in your plant or industry to protect the food supply more than what you are doing now?”

A second threat to agriculture and its marketplace are activists, Hutchinson said. “Anyone coming in under false pretense and in an undercover capacity poses a risk to safety and security of a plant or operation,” he said. “Animal rights activists are a real threat to industry. They are not looking for a safe and secure food supply. They want to stop animal use, and that is inconsistent with a safe, secure food supply.” We need to make sure the public understands this, he said.

The third threat is immigration issues, he said. “I think President Obama will push immigration reform along with other things. To be successful and get bipartisan support it will have to include better tools for employers in agriculture so you can make sure it’s not just the e-verify system, but a system where you can go online and immediately verify whether that person seeking a job has a legal presence in the U.S. The government has to build that capability and database so you can access it. We need to have a more meaningful path of legal immigration so we can have a flow of workers here.”