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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A national response plan developed to protect the country in the event of domestic incidences, including those impacting our food supply, was unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The plan, aimed at coordinating efforts between federal, state, local and tribal governments in case of an emergency, would be used when handling agri-terrorism and/or security as it relates to agriculture and the food supply.
In a statement, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman talked about USDA's involvement in developing the plan. "USDA has been an active partner in the development of the National Response Plan by contributing expertise in food and agriculture and incident management systems."
"By establishing a unified and standardized approach, this plan will improve cross-jurisdictional communications and coordination among government agencies, resulting in more lives saved and more protection of the public health and our critical infrastructure," said Veneman.
According to a DHS press release, the National Response Plan now establishes a unified and standardized approach within the United States for protecting citizens and managing homeland security incidents. "All federal departments and agencies that may be required to assist or support during a national incident will use this Plan, whether from threats or acts of terrorism, major natural disasters, or man-made emergencies."
Using a system established by USDA’s Forest Service as a foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in March 2004. NIMS is a web-based system that outlines a standard structure called the Incident Command System with five functional areas – command, operations, planning, logistics and finance/administration.
USDA has also used NIMS/ICS on the ground to assist in the Columbia Shuttle recovery and to manage the Exotic Newcastle Disease in 2003 and Avian Influenza.