system), and prepare local and regional laboratories for deploying surge capacity to supplement and enhance disaster-response capabilities.

Approaches to Preparing the Food and Agriculture System for Response and Recovery

The U.S. food and agriculture system has undergone profound changes since World War II that have increased the vulnerability to plant and livestock diseases and to widespread human illnesses caused by food-borne pathogens. Food processing and distribution have become increasingly concentrated. For example, four companies now slaughter and process 85 percent of the domestically produced meat, livestock is raised in large, centralized feeding operations, and vast amounts of land are devoted to one or two crops, such as corn and soybeans.

Meanwhile, government support for agricultural research has remained flat (in constant dollars) for nearly 25 years. The private sector supports more agriculture research than the state and federal governments combined, but most of these industry initiatives are in the development of biotechnology products, pesticides, and other inputs to agricultural production.

A USDA-state system of laboratories that investigates outbreaks of livestock diseases does exist, but it varies somewhat in structure from state to state, with some relying on state laboratories and others on colleges of veterinary medicine or agriculture, usually located at land-grant universities. Within USDA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) leads efforts to prepare for and respond to outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases, both indigenous and exotic. APHIS develops the basic emergency-response plans, while state agriculture departments extend the plans to apply to the conditions and administrative structures within their domains.

Recommendation 3.12: Create an agricultural health reserve system and develop surge capacity. As part of a broader planning process, create a reserve system of veterinarians and plant pathologists (modeled on the military reserve system), and prepare local and regional laboratories for deploying surge capacity to supplement and enhance disaster-response capabilities.

Communicating Risks and Responses to the Public

In 2000, a workshop cosponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the FBI, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command was held on the communication of risk resulting from a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attack. A report published in March 2001 describes the results of the workshop and recounts lessons learned from past experiences, addresses unresolved issues that were identified by the expert participants, and presents prioritized recommendations for future research, analysis, and other activities (DTRA, 2001).



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