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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Georgia Emergency Management Agency

TRANSCRIPT

In 2003, states were encouraged to write strategic plans that would basically spell out how State Homeland Security Grant Program money would be spent. The guidelines basically stated that henceforth all funds that would go to states would have to be related to the state strategic plan, and that it would have to have elements in it of the 37 target capabilities. FEMA, who now basically manages the State Homeland Security Grant Program, put out a paper that showed how all of the State Homeland Security Grant Program money had been spent from 2003 to 2007. What they found was that out of the 37 target capabilities, five of the target capabilities got 56% off all of that funding; 14 target capabilities got less than a half percent. The ag and food sector got 0.02%, so I think you can really see that the ag and food sector has been very inadequately funded to develop the preparedness that we need.

I'm Paul Williams. I am with the Georgia Office of Homeland Security, Georgia Emergency Management Agency. I work for the Terrorism Emergency Response and Preparedness Division as the director of agriculture, food, and veterinary programs. We started the programs for the ag and food sector really not long after 9/11. The success that we have had, I think by and large, has been from the fact that we have been fortunate, or unfortunate enough to have several incidents that actually forced us to deal with ag and food security. One was the 1996 Olympic Games, and then the other one was the 2004 G8 Summit. The 2004 G8 Summit was probably one of the most robust food defense plans ever put into place. And of course we had to protect the group of eight plus 30 other heads of state that also came. We had about 20 venues. The Federal government, primarily the Food & Drug Administration, was responsible for three of the venues. The other 17 venues were really the responsibility of the state and local responders, and we find that to be true in many, many events as we've moved forward with domestic preparedness. It is a Federal and state partnership in developing this capability, but much of the responsibility does fall upon the states to provide adequate food and ag defense.

In my state, we've been reasonably successful in obtaining State Homeland Security Grant Program money for a couple of reasons. One, we actually had in the 2003 strategic plan, elements of ag and food defense which aligned us for the ability to get funding. The other part is that we kind of distanced ourselves in some degree from the term agroterror. Agroterror was a word that we all used in the early days to give law enforcement and others some idea that the ag and food sector was part of that group that needed to develop capability. And in some ways that has served a disservice to us in that it made us seem a little different when in essence what we did to get into the grant program funding stream was to align ourselves with critical infrastructure and to align ourselves with funds that went to CBRN. And when sitting down to the table with those people that are doing CBRN preparedness, we made it evident to them that if they didn’t deal with the food and ag sector they basically were not doing their job as completely as they should.

Part of the problem that we had with critical infrastructure is that since 2003 we still have not had a definition of what ag and food critical infrastructure is. Now recently there have been changes. The Homeland Security Infrastructure Threat and Analysis Center, with the help of input from states, have really defined for the first time what ag and food critical infrastructure looks like. So the opportunity to align ourselves with that particular part of the funding stream is, today, more possible than ever. For the first time, we are now defined in such a way that we can be part of the state's critical infrastructure programs which includes ACAMS, which is the Automated Critical Asset Management System that DHS has put out to states for how we manage at the state level all 18 of the critical infrastructures.

So opportunities are beginning to develop in a number of areas. As I mentioned, the CBRN route and the infrastructure protection route, whereby we hope that either individual funding to states will occur whether it be line item or part of a state's homeland security strategy, or recently states were allowed, for the first time, to develop regional collaboration with their contiguous states and with regional states to work on their particular sector. So there are opportunities if indeed your state is aligned with one of these groups, and the eligibility for these regional compacts for funding to regions is very likely. So if you're in an area of the country that really has not developed these regional collaborations, I would encourage you to do so because the potential for regional funding will be there and if you don’t have these compacts in place then that type of eligibility may not be there.

A missing piece to the formula in dealing with our sector of critical infrastructure is continuity of operations and continuity of business. What we have felt at the state level, especially within the regional groups, is that as we're building this capability - and in the early part we're spending an awful lot of time collecting data - but we can actually begin to make that data operational early on. It may only be 25% of the puzzle, it may be 50%, it may be 75%, but over time we begin to build that capability. And we can demonstrate how we're reducing economic consequences and how we're reducing morbidities and mortalities and that is incredibility relevant to those that are allocating funds for preparedness.

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