Iowa’s Ag Secretary and Homeland Security Advisor held a workshop Wednesday and Thursday with their counterparts from ten other states to put together a disaster and bioterrorism response plan for agriculture. Ag Secretary Patty Judge says the two-day meeting was a follow-up to one held last fall as they move toward a plan that will let them work together. Judge says there’s not an immediate danger. Judge says she still does not believe that agricultural terrorism is a “top drawer” issue for terrorists. But, Judge says states have to be prepared for everything.She says because of the sheer amount of grain in the state and the sheer numbers of livestock in the state, Iowa must have a plan. Judge says Iowa has to look at its role with the rest of the Midwest and country, too.She says if they had to throw a quarantine on a sector the state, the disruption to the national transportation system would be “very significant.” She says we have to be ready to deal with that very unlikely event. It wasn’t a terrorist threat that first led the state to put together Iowa’s disaster plan — Judge says it was the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Britain. She says they learned of some holes in the plan when a case of “Mad Cow Disease” was discovered in the U.S. She says the information and communication in that incident were not as good as they should have been. She says states didn’t get some of the information right away that they should have, and she says states are working on that with the federal government. The 10-state partnership has received a two-million dollar grant from the federal Homeland Security Department to work on its efforts. Iowa Homeland Security Advisor Ellen Gordon says their efforts last fall helped secure the funds. She says developing a work plan really helped them show the Department of Homeland Security what they’re trying to do, and what benefits they’ll get. Gordon says they believe this partnership will help set a model for multi-state initiatives. The partnership is headquartered in Iowa.
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