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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Georgia Emergency Management Agency

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Food and agriculture is a critical infrastructure. It is one of the 18 identified national critical infrastructures, and as such, DHS provides guidance and funding on how to protect or harden those critical infrastructures. So your program initiatives at the state level that support strengthening food and agriculture critical infrastructure is of upmost important, and this funding is to help support those activities.

I'm Dr. Greg Christy. I'm with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. I've been involved with emergency response for animal and ag issues. I've spent a year up with DHS and I'm back in Florida now working emergency programs.

I think the most important thing that a sate can do if you're starting from scratch you certainly need to know your two most important points of contact in the state and that would be the State Administrative Agency and the State Homeland Security Advisor. The State Administrative Agency is the agency that administers the funds provided through FEMA G&T grant funding, and the Homeland Security Advisor (HSA) is the primary point of contact for all homeland security actions within the state. The third thing you could do is go to the FEMA website and read the FEMA G&T grant guidance documents and acquaint yourself with the different programs and application requirements. The one the states are primarily concerned with are the Homeland Security Grant Programs. If you're a state agency that is involved with emergency response activities, you certainly would be involved with the State Administrative Agency the SAA. Typically at the state level, it's the emergency management agency for that state.

In Florida, we've been able to utilize the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) to fund our efforts over the last several years. We've now utilized this funding to support our Emergency Support Function 17 mission area which is animal and agriculture issues, and the funding has provided support for establishment of a multiagency coordination group which we call SART (State Agriculture Response Team). This multiagency coordination group is made up of 25 partner agencies that support our ESF 17 preparedness and response activities. The funding has also provided support, training, and equipping our incident management team that's made of personnel from these partner agencies and also from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. We have been able to provide necessary training, exercises, and purchasing equipment for the support of that incident management team. We've looked to this funding stream and we're continuing to receive this funding stream to support those programs and strengthen our multiagency coordination group, strengthen our incident management team, strengthen our county outreach.

I think we've been successful in Florida because we have a very strong relationship with that State Administrative Agency the SAA and also the Homeland Security Advisor. We know those folks and we work with them routinely on issues and we have buy-in. They say that the programs and activities that we're involved with, with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are critical to the state homeland security strategic plan. It's not an overnight process. It takes awhile to work into those issues, but the relationships we have with those points of contact are critical.

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