After passing through the U.S. House and Senate with bipartisan support, the Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act (H.R. 1238) last week moved to the President’s in-box for final approval. The bill helps clarify the role of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in collaborating with other federal agencies on issues related to agricultural terrorism.
The Act amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and assigns the DHS assistant secretary for health affairs with communicating and collaborating with federal agencies and stakeholders in DHS efforts related to food, agriculture, and veterinary defense against terrorism. The Act does not alter or supersede the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture relating to food and agriculture.
U.S. Rep. David Young (R-IA), the author of H.R. 1238, says “this important bipartisan effort works to enhance our national security and food safety, for our children and families in Iowa and across the nation. I was proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this vitally important bill to President Trump’s desk.”
Young first introduced the bill in 2016 and again in January of this year, largely in response to the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza, the most costly animal-disease outbreak in Iowa’s history. Response efforts to that outbreak revealed problems in federal government’s ability to communicate with stakeholders and react quickly to large-scale animal disease outbreaks, according to Young’s office.
An earlier analysis from the Congressional Budget Office estimated that implementing the act would cost less than $500,000 a year and would not affect direct spending or revenues.
Details on the legislation are available on the U.S. Congress website.