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WASHINGTON, October 19, 2001 Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that President Bush has proposed the allocation of $45.2 million to USDA as part of a $20 billion submission to Congress for emergency funding to strengthen essential programs and services related to biosecurity issues.
The Presidents proposed emergency funding for USDA will help advance the next phase of our emergency preparedness activities and will help meet our critical infrastructure needs, said Veneman. We have taken the appropriate steps to date to ensure the critical needs for USDA are met, however, we must remain vigilant in protecting our nations food and agriculture.
The Presidents proposed allocation of $45.2 million to USDA will enhance other actions taken throughout other federal departments to increase homeland security. The funding proposed for USDA would support:
Enhanced security for USDA facilities ($17.2 million);
Design and construction of a satellite facility at the USDA laboratory in Ames, Iowa for research activities ($14.1 million);
Technical assistance to State, local, Federal, and private sector entities to improve biosecurity ($5.0 million); and
Education and training to strengthen response mechanisms to potential food supply threats, improve data collection and dissemination, and other biosecurity activities ($8.9 million).
USDA is committed to doing our part for homeland protection, said Veneman. We must stand ready and ensure that we are prepared, coordinated, and able to respond should we face an emergency.
USDA has taken responsible measures to ensure its programs and services are responsive to potential threats. This includes inspectors being on heightened awareness at ports of entry and in food processing plants; increased security at appropriate USDA facilities; strengthened coordination state agriculture offices, other federal entities such as the FDA, CDC, Customs, law enforcement agencies, and industry organizations; and, an examination of short and long term needs to ensure the continued protection of Americas food supply and agriculture against pests and diseases.
Earlier this year, USDA began an extensive review of it pest and disease prevention and eradication programs, given the devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. As a result, by the end of FY 2002, USDA will have increased its inspection personnel at our ports of entry by nearly forty percent and will double our inspection dog teams from levels two years ago. This year, Veneman has authorized $40 million to expedite these resource needs and strengthen coordination, communication and technological capabilities. Veneman has also called for the next Farm Bill to establish a permanent agriculture investment fund in order to maintain and bolster the effectiveness of our nations animal and plant inspection services, food safety inspection services and agricultural research.
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