WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Kansas State University President General Richard Myers’ critical testimony on the remaining challenges to agriculture security before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) Wednesday said the nation must continue to be vigilant against threats to American agriculture and may address improvements to security as part of the next Farm Bill.
“General Myers’ testimony before the Agriculture Committee today realizes the vision we had 18 years ago when then K-State President John Wefald testified before the Senate Emerging Threats Subcommittee, saying that our nation needed better agro-defense and that Kansas and K-State could step up to fulfill this role,” Roberts said. “Now today, just as we did then, we must continue to look ahead, invest in and evaluate measures to better protect our food supply, our economy and our public health.”
Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, invited Myers to testify at a hearing titled: Safeguarding American Agriculture in a Globalized World.
In his testimony, General Myers said, “Much must be done to safeguard American agriculture in a globalized world ¾ the U.S. agriculture and food critical infrastructure is not well protected from potentially catastrophic biological events.” To watch General Myers remarks, go here.
Myers shared 13 specific recommendations to the committee, including adding additional security clearances, investing in workforce development, better coordination, improved intelligence and more strategic plans for research continuity.
General Myers concluded his remarks saying, “Congress must enact enforceable statutes before it’s too late.”
Roberts also invited former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Co-Chair of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, to testify.
“The good news is that a national biodefense strategy is in the works and focusing on many of these issues,” Lieberman said. “This committee can help promote those efforts in the Farm Bill.”
The Committee also heard from Dr. Doug Meckes, a former practicing veterinarian and DHS official tasked with leading the agency’s agro security work, and current state veterinarian for North Carolina.
“As I am certain you all are aware,” Meckes said, “numerous animal agriculture groups, animal science organizations, and veterinarians support a new Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention Program for inclusion in the 2018 Farm Bill.”
Also testifying before the Committee was Dr. Raymond Hammerschmidt, Professor of Plant, Soil And Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University.
“Because of global trade, we are at risk of introducing new pests and pathogens as well as variants of endemic species,” Hammerschmidt said. “Thus, the threat to plant systems can come from many different directions, and the need for proactive detection and diagnostic technologies, and enhanced preparedness at all levels is more important than ever before.”
Concluding his remarks Roberts said, “Today, we will commit to the record updated information regarding agriculture security, begin to examine any needed changes in this arena, and continue work on these evolving challenges. There are several key questions for us to explore.” To watch his full remarks, go here.
For more information on Senator Roberts’ extensive work to improve the nation’s ability to detect, deter and respond to threats to agriculture, go here: https://www.roberts.senate.