Terrorism: Defining the meaning of ‘orange’ alert to farming community


COLUMBUS - As we’re aware by now, at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 7, 2003, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft elevated the national Homeland Security Advisory System from a “yellow” to an “orange.”

Most of the information available to date has been in regard to how individuals and businesses might appropriately react to this heightened level of concern for Homeland Security.

But, what should “orange” mean to agriculture, and more specifically cattlemen?

Level of risk. First, we need to recognize that the colored rating system is simply an indication of the level of risk that the federal government believes exists for terrorist threat to homeland security, said Dee Jepsen from Ohio State’s department of food, agricultural and biological engineering.

The risk ratings include green (low), blue (guarded), yellow (elevated), orange (high), and red (severe).

The last time the nation was alerted to a level orange was immediately following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

At that time, the announcement was met with confusion and at times, cynicism.

As we have once again been placed at level orange, it’s important that we begin to evaluate exactly what that means to us as individuals, Jepsen said.

While the federal government provides state agencies with emergency guidelines to follow, it cannot dictate operational procedures.

Increased security. The Department of Justice has called for increased security levels and believes that foreign animal disease surveillance should be increased nationwide.

No potential foreign animal disease cases should be disregarded. Potential hoaxes should be treated as suspect incursions of foreign animal diseases until proven otherwise.

Specific attention should be directed at livestock and poultry concentration points, Jepsen said.

Investigators and laboratory personnel should implement an appropriate level of personal protection when examining animals, carcasses, and submitted samples until potentially zoonotic diseases can be ruled out.

Physical security on farms, livestock concentration points, and quarantine stations should be heightened.

Limited animal movements and farm contacts should be kept to essential people for continued operations.

Detect disease. To summarize the Department of Justice’s actions for a local producer is to stress the need for early detection of livestock diseases or problems.

Producers should contact their local veterinarian for diagnoses. Some producers may try to self-diagnose a herd health problem, or even under report it in fear of having their herd quarantined.

However, when we’re at orange, we should be reporting any abnormality that may be a bio-security threat to the nation’s food chain, Jepsen said.

Variety of reasons. Farms are at risk for a variety of reasons. Besides agricultural chemicals and chemical application equipment, livestock are susceptible to foreign animal diseases.

When the country is operating at level orange, agricultural communities are encouraged to be alert to unusual activities, and suspicious farm visitors.

Looking out for fowl play is something everyone can do to ensure a safer farm community.

Learn more about risk level orange, and the Department of Homeland Security at www.dhs.gov or click on the homeland security link on the Ohio Government Web page www.state.oh.us/.

Related information:

Level orange security on the farm

Farm owners should consider options for farmstead security and evaluate any situations or events that are not easily explained for potential causes.

*Maintain an updated inventory list of feeds and chemicals stored on-site.

* Keep current documentation of restricted-use pesticides.

* Chemicals and application tools should be stored in a locked location.

the water supply system is secured.

* Maintain updated contact information for local authorities.

* Be cautious while traveling.

* Have an emergency shelter in place with supplies readily available.

to restrict access to their farm facility based on their operation’s risk.

* Employees and delivery drivers should be reputable, and unexpected guests or delivery person should be scrutinized.


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