President Bush signed into law the Defense Appropriations Act last Thursday, which included $367 million for USDA to bolster biosecurity efforts. The money will be used to strengthen food safety programs, pest and animal disease protections and research, along with funding for other key programs.
“These appropriations will provide important resources to help strengthen our biosecurity efforts in the wake of September 11,” says Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. “The protection of our food supply, including guarding against pest and animal diseases, is extremely critical. We must continue to invest in food safety programs, research and laboratory modernization to ensure America’s consumers and food and agriculture industry are protected against any potential threats.”
Key funding initiatives include:
- $105 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for pest and disease exclusion, detection and monitoring.
- $80 million for upgrading USDA facilities and operational security.
- $50 million for an animal bio-containment facility at the National Animal Disease Laboratory.
- $40 million for the Agricultural Research Service.
- $23 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
- $15 million for security upgrades and bioterrorism protection for the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
- $14 million for increased security measures at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.
- $39 million for the Women, Infants and Children program to respond to the effects of unemployment and other conditions.
“We continue to make our protection systems a top priority,” says Veneman. “I commend the work of the Conference Committee for developing this bipartisan resolution. These resources are important investments that will help strengthen our protection programs.”
Since September 11, USDA has worked with the newly created Office of Homeland Security, states, other federal agencies, states and industry, to examine immediate emergency needs and develop longer-term strategies to continue protecting America’s food and agricultural systems.
“We will continue to coordinate with the Office of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services, to utilize these additional resources most effectively,” says Veneman. “We formed the USDA Homeland Security Council to help coordinate antiterrorism efforts across all USDA program areas and with other federal and state agencies.”
For more information on USDA’s homeland security efforts, please visit the Department’s biosecurity Web site at: www.usda.gov/biosecurity.