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Washington D.C.
Friday, September 30, 2022

Agricultural Security Bill Amendment Passed by House

An amendment to HR 5346, the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act, was passed by the House this week. The amendment would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs to coordinate activities with other DHS components, including Customs and Border Protection to “carry out a program to coordinate the department’s efforts related to defending the food, agriculture and veterinary systems of the United States against terrorism and other high-consequence events that pose a high risk to homeland security.”

It would also require the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs to better inform staffing decisions at US ports of entry.

“The Port of Newark and Newark Liberty International Airport play a critical role in securing our nation and protecting domestic agriculture. It is essential that these ports of entry, and others like them, are secure,” said Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-), who introduced the amendment. “This amendment is an important step toward ensuring that staffing needs at ports of entry are met to protect our food and agriculture sectors against potential threats.”

Payne noted that, “New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District is home to large international ports, including the Port of Newark and Newark Liberty International Airport. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists are on the frontlines at these ports of entry to protect domestic agriculture and food supply from foreign pathogens. Despite the large size and enormous volume of these two ports, there is a shortage of agriculture specialists.

The legislation would also require the DHS secretary, acting through the Assistant
Secretary for Health Affairs, to:

  • Provide oversight and management of the department’s responsibilities pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 – Defense of United States Agriculture and Food.
  • Provide oversight and integration of the department’s activities related to veterinary public health, food defense and agricultural security.
  • Lead the department’s policy initiatives relating to food, animal and agricultural incidents, and the impact of such incidents on animal and public health.
  • Lead the department’s policy initiatives relating to overall domestic preparedness for and collective response to agricultural terrorism.
  • Coordinate with other department components, including Customs and Border Protection, as appropriate, on activities related to food and agriculture security and screening procedures for domestic and imported products.
  • Coordinate with appropriate federal departments and agencies.
  • And other activities as determined necessary by the secretary.
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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