Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) Friday announced his legislation to address the threat of agro-terrorism and ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply was signed into law. Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, introduced the bipartisan legislation with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“As the backbone of the U.S. economy, the spread of any deadly pathogen among our livestock and plant population would cause irreparable damage,” Senator Roberts said. “As former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I understand the unique threat our farmers and ranchers face. I am pleased we have taken this important step to better ensure the safety and security of our nation’s food supply.”
“As DHS continues to build the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan., now is the exact time to shore up authorities regarding coordination and mitigation should the worst occur and the nation is hit by a biological attack on our food and agriculture. I look forward to continuing to work with DHS and USDA, which play equally important roles, in protecting our food supply. I’m pleased President Trump has signed this bill into law to reiterate the important and necessary role of the DHS in the agro-terrorism space.”
Our nation faces global and complex national security challenges. Agro-terrorism, and other high-risk events, pose serious threats to our food, agriculture, and livestock industries across the United States. It is imperative to have preparedness policies in place to quickly respond to events threatening U.S. agriculture or food production systems – ultimately protecting these key industries which impact every Americans on a daily basis. The Securing our Agriculture and Food Act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, to lead the government’s efforts to secure our nation’s food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events. The bill also authorizes the secretary to collaborate with other agencies, to ensure food, agriculture, and animal and human health sectors receive attention and are integrated into the DHS’s domestic preparedness policy initiatives.
After Senate passage, Senator Roberts recorded an audio message available here.
Reps. David Young (R-IA), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), and Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced the legislation in the House.
The text of the bill can be found here.