Biothreats to agriculture highlighted

The International Agri-Center in Tulare, California was recently visited by government officials in an attempt to raise awareness of the threat, impact and response needs in the face of potential terrorist attacks on the agricultural sector.

The half-day course at the International Agri-Center was attended by approximately 40 farmers, industry representatives and law enforcement officials, who were given information about agroterrorism.

“We don’t have skyscrapers," Tulare Fire Department Chief Michael Threlkeld told," "but one anthrax spore could do a lot of harm here."

The course covered multiple types of potential means of attacks on agriculture, including biological and chemicals, and the means by which those weapons could be delivered.

People in food production, Threlkeld warned, often see a stranger trespassing on property only as a thief when that stranger could, in fact, be a terrorist.

Course instructor John Kowalski of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, Academy Counter Terrorism Education, told that agriculture's greatest threats are from biological and chemical attacks.

The ramifications of such an attack could be far-reaching, with Threlkeld saying that the effects would be felt not only on public safety but also on the economy.

“The more eyes we having looking out, the better,” organizer Tom Knowles told