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Agroterrorism conference to take place in Columbus
By JANE HOUIN
Ohio Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Documents recovered from an Al-Qaeda training campus suggest the American food supply is a high-priority target, but the threat is not just external. Domestically, terrorists and activists have declared war on modern food and agriculture.

Those are some of the reasons the Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) has partnered with the Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance) and the Law Enforcement Academic Research Network, Inc. (LEARN) to host Managing Activist/ Terrorist Threats to the Food, Agricultural and Animal Industries: A Common Sense Approach training course in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 17-18.

“Our nation is now a target from adversaries, both foreign and domestic, who would like to destroy the American way of life and devastate our people,” said Bob Norton, professor of veterinary microbiology and biosecurity in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University.

In mid-March, the New York-based Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) conducted anti-agriculture activist training sessions for more than 70 residents of eastern Indiana and western Ohio counties, according to a news release from the OLC. The coalition is concerned that incited by GRACE activists’ inflammatory rhetoric, some extreme elements of the anti-agriculture movement may consider taking matters into their own hands.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates damage from eco- and animal rights extremists at more than $200 million in recent years and currently has more than 150 open cases in this area. The increasing number of incidents of violence at farms, processing plants, research centers and other business locations emphasizes the need for better management of threats to food and animal industries.

“Anyone responsible for securing food and agriculture facilities from internal and external threats along with protecting our workforce and the public should get training that will help them effectively execute this task,” Norton said.

The two-day course in Columbus will focus on threats that both international and domestic terrorists, especially animal rights extremists, pose to animal-related industries and their customers, from retail outlets to food-service companies and animal research facilities.

OLC Director David White said the course is hands-on and will teach participants how to determine credible threats to staff facilities and the public, collect intelligence on those threats and develop practical threat management plans to prevent violence.

The recent guilty pleas of three eco- and animal rights terrorists in a cell known as “the Family” to a string of fire bombings, including a Washington State slaughterhouse and Wyoming horse farm, serve as a reminder of the critical importance of those involved in agriculture to become and stay involved to protect themselves, their customers, and their businesses. The damage estimate from this cell alone was $45 million, and it took federal officials five years to make any arrests.

For details on the course, contact Philip Lobo at the Alliance at 703-562-5160. Registration is available online at www.learninc.us and must be submitted in advance.

This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

10/4/2006