The Impact Of 9/11 On Agricultural Security

The events of September 11 accelerated congressional focus on the necessity of counterterrorism efforts and strengthening of critical infrastructure to better protect American agricultural production and resources by extension this would mean protecting produce export, because of the importance of agriculture to American economic, political, and social stability, addressing the bioterrorism threat to agriculture has taken on a new urgency.
Agricultural Security Concerns Before September 11
Even before September 11, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was aware of the threat to agriculture by identifying and addressing bioterrorism concerns. Since fiscal year 2000, there has been a budgetary increase of almost 40 percent for the agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) program to heighten the level of contraband inspections at U.S. borders and ports of entry. Other activities include promoting coordination of state and federal agencies, agricultural interests, law enforcement, and emergency management. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service maintains a law enforcement and investigations program to deter and protect resources against domestic ecoterrorism.
Terrorists consider America’s agriculture and food production tempting targets, reports the FBI. “They have noticed that its food supply is among the most vulnerable and least protected of all potential targets of attack. When American and allied forces overran al Qaeda sanctuaries in the caves of eastern Afghanistan in 2002, among the thousands of documents they discovered were U.S. agricultural documents and al Qaeda training manuals targeting agriculture.
Agriculture represents 13 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and accounted for $52 billion in exports in 2001.8 It is obvious that the economic impacts of biological agroterrorism would be felt throughout the U.S. and abroad. As an example, we need not look much farther than the damage caused by FMD in England and the European continent. FMD resulted in significant economic costs to the United Kingdom’s economy during the most recent outbreaks of the disease. The overall economic costs in the food and farming sectors of the UK economy totaled an estimated £5 billion, roughly $10 billion. This compares to an annual gross output of the entire UK agricultural sector of £25 billion.
Every level of the food chain, including farms, feedlots, chemical storage facilities, meatpacking plants, and distribution operations, remains vulnerable to agro terrorism. Thefts of vaccines, medicines, and livestock-related equipment should be of concern and carefully investigated.
The Bottom Line
Some economists contend, perhaps justifiably, that America’s economic problems may be indirectly related to 9/11 – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s heightened security and intelligence efforts, and the ongoing war against terrorism, are all expenses resulting from the attacks of that fateful day.

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