Review of Rand Article

Review of Rand Article




Review of Rand Article

In a testimony titled Terrorism, Infrastructure Protection, and the U.S. Food and Agricultural Sector, which he presented to the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia, U.S. Senate, Peter Chalk gives a highlight of the country’s weaknesses concerning its preparedness on terrorism targeting the agricultural sector in the area of livestock farming. He observes that western countries have invested greatly in measures aimed at combating terrorist attacks, especially those targeting nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. However, they have largely neglected the fact that terrorists could target the agricultural sector. The sector lacks adequate measures to conduct threat assessments. In addition, it has inadequate response structures and there is no emphasis on any forms of preparedness initiatives. Such an attack would be catastrophic, as it would affect many people.

Chalk notes that agriculture is important to the US as it ensures stability of its political, economic, and social sectors. Many people within and outside the country depend on agriculture for their jobs and food. Moreover, the sector makes a significant contribution towards the country’s growth domestic product. He observes that despite its clear importance, the sector remains vulnerable to any disruptions. Farming practices aimed at increasing productivity have made the animals susceptible to disease. Farmers’ failure or inability to vaccinate animals makes them vulnerable to contagious diseases. In addition, many farmers keep large herds of animals and this would mean a great loss for the farmers if a contagious disease were to infect animals in a facility. There are many food processors operating without implementing any form of security measures and this would make it easy to introduce any toxic agents.

The author identifies the effects that would result from an attack targeting the agricultural sector. He notes that such an attack would cause mass economic destabilization, which would cause economic and international costs as well as direct multiplier effects such as compensation to the farmers. The attack would cause people to lose confidence in the government. They would question the government’s preparedness in dealing with such disasters and there would be increased public criticism on any measure that the government takes. Such an attack would also cause instability in social structures. Mass panic would result resulting to fear and anxiety.

Although the country has not experienced any form of terror threats targeting the agricultural sector, it has created an emergency preparedness and response unit that deals specifically with agricultural sector. This shows that it recognizes agriculture as a possible terrorist target. However, the unit does not have adequate resources and this reduces its capabilities. The author proposes the need to develop infrastructure to counter attacks targeting the agricultural sector, improved coordination of the criminal justice, intelligence, and agricultural communities, and a revision of the curriculum dealing with veterinary science to incorporate study of foreign diseases. Furthermore, he notes that there is a need to increase surveillance in food processing to ensure that they meet safety standards

The article shows that there is a need to increase security surveillance in the agricultural sector, especially in areas dealing with livestock. Since it was written in 2001, the government has taken various measures to address issues of agro terrorism. Some of the measures include increasing and improving the resources for dealing with agro terrorism, creation of more agencies aimed at countering terrorist efforts, and increased roles and responsibilities in the existing agencies following more knowledge on terrorism matters. Different agencies including the Department of Defense, The US Department of Agriculture, The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services have roles concerning how to deal with acts of agro terrorism.

The government has provided more resources aimed at learning and knowing more about agro terrorism. This investment includes research and development of laboratories that will increase knowledge of animal and plant diseases. It has acquired vaccines against foreign diseases. Furthermore, it has equipped states in an effort to empower them and enable them to manage such terror attacks at a state level (GAO, 2005). States have taken local measures to counter the threat of terror attacks. In areas where agriculture is intensive, states have formed the multi-state partnership for security in agriculture. The intention of creating the organization is to coordinate preparedness efforts and response measures in case of an attack. The creation of the International Symposium on Agro-terrorism, which is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Centers of Excellence by the Department of Homeland Security are directed towards agricultural counter terrorism efforts.

The government has established new regulations to maximize the protection of food processing. It is doing this through the FDA, which requires all businesses dealing with food processing to register any processors and to give advance notice before they import any form of food (News Magazine Network, 2012). These measures have improved the situation since Chalk first gave his statement before the subcommittee. They are part of the government’s efforts to ensure that the agricultural and environmental sectors are protected from any form of terror attack. However, the government could still do more to ensure increased safety. There is a need for all forms of government to coordinate their efforts, enhance the communication among the different agencies, and increase cooperation in all the sectors to ensure that the agricultural sector is protected.



Chalk, P. (2001). Terrorism, infrastructure protection, and the U.S. food and agricultural sector. Retrieved from

GAO. Homeland security: much is being done to protect agriculture from a terrorist attack but important challenges remain. U.S. Government Accountability Office. Retrieved from

News Magazine Network (2012). How vulnerable is the U.S. to agro-terror attack? Retrieved from


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