On April 22 – 23, 2013, EDEN hosted its first Agrosecurity Symposium: Building National Networks and Partnerships in Washington, DC. Stakeholders from federal, tribal, state, and local entities attended the 1.5 day meeting to identify challenges and develop strategies to address emergency and disaster preparedness issues facing the food and agriculture sector. The Symposium webpage provides a detailed agenda and outcomes report of the meeting.
The first day of the Symposium began with Mark Robinson, USDA National Program Leader for Animal Agrosecurity, setting the stage with key examples of the need for a national agrosecurity preparedness system that can be applied at the local level all the way up to the federal level. Then, Eric Runnels (Branch Chief of Policy and Doctrine Coordination Branch, Federal Emergency Management Agency), Jessica Pulz (Chief, Resilience and Preparedness Division, United States Department of Agriculture), and Doug Meckes (Branch Chief for Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary Defense Branch, Department of Homeland Security), outlined federal agrosecurity initiatives to serve as the foundation for discussions later in the day. Steve Cain (National EDEN Homeland Security Project Director, Purdue University) and Andrea Higdon (Emergency Management System Director, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky) described EDEN’s role in agricultural emergency and disaster preparedness. Tom Tucker (Director, National Center for Biomedical Research and Training [NCBRT]) discussed the partnership between EDEN and NCBRT and potential future activities. During lunch, Ron Walton (National Coordinator for Agriculture and Resource/Emergency Support Function #11: Agriculture and Natural Resources, United States Department of Agriculture) relayed the evolution of ESF #11 and proposed revisions to it.
Panel presentations provided an opportunity for local and state agrosecurity professionals (Sandy Johnson, Emergency Management Coordinator, Kansas Department of Agriculture; Jeanne Rankin, Agro-Emergency Projects Coordinator, Montana State University; Kim Cassel, Professor, South Dakota State University; Curt Emanuel, Extension Educator, Purdue University) to present lessons learned from disasters, programming opportunities, and valuable resources. Billy Dictson (Director of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center, retired) gave insight on critical agriculture infrastructure challenges. The remainder of the Symposium focused on small intra- and inter-agency working groups collaborating to analyze existing agrosecurity needs and formulate strategies to mitigate them. Moderator Rick Atterberry (EDEN Chair, Media Communications Specialist, University of Illinois) provided continuity throughout the program and guided plenary discussions.
As the Symposium concluded, Moderator Rick Atterberry commented, “the Symposium served as a linchpin for bringing together stakeholders to discuss how federal agrosecurity initiatives can be translated to state and local levels.” Using the whole community to address agrosecurity initiatives from the local up to the state, tribal, and federal levels provides an avenue for synchronous preparedness in the food and agriculture sector.
A detailed description of the challenges and strategies the working groups identified during the Symposium can be found online at: http://www.eden.lsu.edu/s-cap/symposium.