Is there a bulls eye on the backs of America’s farmers and ranchers? With troops in various places around the globe protecting our freedoms, the impact of 9-11 is still fresh in our memories. How many lives were forever changed when those planes hit the Twin Towers and the U.S. Pentagon? How far did our economy fall as a result of the disruption of our financial markets? In a nutshell, al Qaeda wanted to hit us where it hurts. That’s why we must be vigilant and proactive in protecting U.S. agriculture, a trillion-dollar industry that employs one in every six Americans.
“Terrorists consider America’s agriculture and food production tempting targets,” reports the FBI. “They have noticed that its food supply is among the most vulnerable and least protected of all potential targets of attack. When American and allied forces overran al Qaeda sanctuaries in the caves of eastern Afghanistan in 2002, among the thousands of documents they discovered were U.S. agricultural documents and al Qaeda training manuals targeting agriculture.
“A subset of bioterrorism, agro terrorism is defined as ‘the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease for the purpose of generating fear, causing economic losses, or undermining social stability.’ It represents a tactic to attack the economic stability of the U.S. Killing livestock and plants or contaminating food can help terrorists cause economic crises in the agriculture and food industries. Secondary goals include social unrest and loss of confidence in government.”
Obviously, the FBI is seriously concerned with this threat, and although agro terrorism isn’t a new concept, the agency continues to warn producers to be wary of the potential dangers of agro terrorism.
“Agriculture may not represent terrorists’ first choice of targets because it lacks the shock factor of more traditional attacks; however, it comprises the largest single sector in the U.S. economy, making agro terrorism a viable primary aspiration. Such terrorist groups as al Qaeda have made economic and trade disruption key goals. They believe that by imposing economic hardship on America, its citizens will tire of the struggle and force their elected leaders to withdraw from commitments abroad,” the FBI says.
“Every level of the food chain, including farms, feedlots, chemical storage facilities, meatpacking plants, and distribution operations, remains vulnerable to agro terrorism. Because terrorists rely on a lack of preparedness, law enforcement agencies should develop a plan to prevent agro terrorism and minimize the results of an attack. Officers must investigate from an agro-terrorism perspective thefts of livestock; a criminal organization may steal animals with the intent of infecting them and placing them back into the population. Thefts of vaccines, medicines, and livestock-related equipment should be of concern and carefully investigated. It also is vital that law enforcement officials forward reports of such incidents to their states’ intelligence-fusion centers, threat-integration centers, or law enforcement intelligence units or networks.”
Read the full FBI report here.
I don’t share this to be dramatic or to scare people, but this certainly should be an issue of concern to all of us. Are you more concerned or are you less concerned these days about the threat of agro terrorism? What precautions are you taking to protect your family business?