Challenges remain for the food and agriculture sector in responding to potential terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

According to GAO testimony from Lisa Shames, director of Natural Resources and Environment, before the US Senate subcommittee on oversight of government management, protecting food and agriculture needs a lot of work from the respective agencies involved: Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Shames reported that:

  • No centralized coordination exists to oversee Federal agencies’ overall progress in implementing the nation’s food and agricultural defense policy.
  • USDA does not have a department-wide strategy for implementing its response and recovery responsibilities.
  • USDA faces challenges coordinating the Federal food and agriculture responses for natural disasters.
Shames’s group is making nine recommendations to help ensure the Federal government is effectively implementing the nation’s food and agriculture defense policy and ensure that the nation is adequately prepared to respond to and recover from emergencies affecting food and agriculture.