Dairy producers are on the front line of defense for protecting America’s food and agriculture. Since Sept. 11, 2001, USDA has intensified work with federal, state and local authorities to bolster protections for our food supply from the farm to the table.
Here are some ways you can help (adapted from Keep America’s Food and Agriculture Safe – USDA Fact Sheet):
Plan. Make a plan to manage risk.
Plan how you will respond to threats or tampering with your animals, crops, equipment, chemicals, supplies, and energy and water sources.
Anticipate risks to your operation and minimize them.
Identify areas or activities where threats might occur and increase security in those areas.
Consult with experts when you are developing your plan. Include your veterinarian, crop consultant, extension agent, university scientist and state department of agriculture experts.
Update your plan regularly. Make sure you have contact names and telephone numbers for local law enforcement, emergency management, health department and USDA offices posted near phones.
Include how you’ll notify appropriate local law enforcement officials, as well as federal and state agriculture officials in your plan.
Educate. Train employees and customers. Screen potential employees with background checks.
Educate your employees and customers on how important it is to be alert for signs of possible tampering with crops, livestock, supplies, equipment, and facilities.
Consider regular background checks on all employees; check references.
Develop a system to identify employees and visitors; schedule arrivals and departures.
Train all employees on security policies and procedures. Include periodic refresher training.
Secure. Secure hazardous materials, energy and water sources, and such production inputs as feed and nutrients.
Maintain an up-to-date inventory of hazardous materials. Investigate any discrepancies immediately.
Make sure that all storage areas for hazardous chemicals and drugs are secured and reasonably isolated and that they are built and vented according to national and state codes.
Lock storage areas with hazardous materials and drugs. Supervise staff with access to these materials.
Secure water wells or other water supplies, and identify alternative water sources as backups.
Monitor the security of feed and other ingredients.
Schedule and monitor delivery service and maintenance personnel.
Ask your feed supplier to keep dated, labeled (source) samples of each batch of animal feed for three months.
Monitor. Prevent unauthorized entry or access to production sites.
Secure facility boundaries to prevent unauthorized access. Post “no trespassing” signs.
Monitor your facilities for signs of suspicious activity or unauthorized entry.
Provide adequate outside lighting around equipment buildings and other facilities.
Consider using alarms, motion detection lights, cameras or other appropriate security equipment in key areas.
Report. Report any suspicious activity.
Alert all employees and family members to watch for sick animals or unusual changes in the appearance of crops.
Report any unusual animal or plant health symptoms to local agriculture officials, including your veterinarian, crop consultant, extension personnel or state department of agriculture personnel.
Make sure employees know how and where to report concerns or suspicious activities.
Encourage employees to report any suspicious activity or any unauthorized personnel on or near the facility. If you see anything suspicious, call your local officials.
For more information, consult the USDA Homeland Security information at: www.usda.gov.
(The author is an agricultural extension agent in Columbiana County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)