Wednesday afternoon, Iowa Congressman David Young’s agro-terrorism preparedness legislation, the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act (H.R.1238), was passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 406-6.
“The House has taken an important step towards protecting America and consumers from Agro-terrorism, and other high-risk events, that pose serious threats to our food, agriculture, and livestock industries across the United States and Iowa,” Congressman Young said.
“This important effort has been a bipartisan concern by members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate who are working with me on this issue which is critical to our national security and food safety, for our children and families in Iowa and across the nation.”
First introduced in 2016 and then again in January of this year, Congressman Young’s legislation addresses concerns brought to light after Iowa suffered the largest animal disease outbreak in state history, when the 2015 avian influenza outbreak wiped out millions of layer hens, turkeys, and backyard flocks.
Response efforts revealed problematic breaks in the federal government’s ability to communicate with stakeholders and react quickly to large-scale animal disease outbreaks. This disaster also raised concerns among farmers and producers about whether our nation would be able to capably share information and respond to agro-terrorism threats and attacks, ultimately an attack against our nation’s consumers.
Young’s Securing our Agriculture and Food Act requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the assistant secretary for Health Affairs, to elevate preparedness of our nation’s food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events.
The bill authorizes DHS 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.
The U.S. Senate version of Young’s legislation, S.500, has been voted out of committee and is waiting for a vote to be scheduled in the full Senate.
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