USDA releases farm biosecurity guide

Jul 12, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a guide to helps farmers protect crops and animals from security threats.

The guide, titled "Pre-Harvest Security Guidelines and Checklist 2006," offers voluntary, practical measures to help farmers protect crops and animals from natural disasters and naturally or intentionally introduced pathogens.

In drafting the security guidelines, the USDA received input from producers throughout the country. The 20-page document covers general agriculture, dairy, crops, cattle, and poultry.

One recommendation that would cover almost any type of farm is to develop and update a risk management plan and share it with employees, family, and local law enforcement. A more specific recommendation for crop farmers is to maintain an updated inventory of anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, bulk urea, pesticides, and other hazardous materials and to investigate any discrepancies.

In a press release today, the USDA said improving food-producer awareness about biosafety issues is central to its homeland security efforts. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner commented, "While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting agriculture, recommendations in this guide can be beneficial to a variety of types and sizes of agricultural operations."

The guide is available at the USDA's local Farm Service Agency centers and online. It is the latest in a series of USDA publications to address biosecurity; the agency has previously published guidelines for food processors and distributors and for those involved in agricultural transportation.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) today released on its Web site a checklist of precautions for preventing avian influenza on poultry farms. The checklist includes tips such as maintaining a visitor log, requiring visitors to wash their hands before entering a poultry house, following a strict schedule when caring for the flock (such as working from youngest to oldest), and draining ponds near poultry houses.

See also:

USDA's pre-harvest security guidelines and checklist

Jul 12 USDA news release on farm security guidelines

CFIA checklist for preventing avian influenza on farms

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