Last week, President Biden signed a National Security Memorandum to Strengthen the Security and Resilience of U.S. Food and Agriculture. Ahead of the signing of this memorandum, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s CEO, Colin Woodall, participated in a White House pre-briefing with senior federal law enforcement and homeland security officials. In today’s Beef Buzz, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, features comments from Woodall talking about food as a national security priority.
The memorandum instructs top government officials to identify threats to U.S. food and agriculture and respond appropriately.
“What it means is that the Biden Administration clearly understands that food security and U.S. food production is national security,” Woodall said. “So, for them to take this move to put out a national security notice memorandum shows quite clearly they understand the role we play in feeding ourselves here in the United States and feeding the global community.”
The memorandum, Woodall said, opens up the opportunity for ag producers to have more connection to the administration as we look at the threats against all American agriculture and especially cattle production. Another benefit of the memorandum, Woodall said, is the opportunity to find ways to continue to protect U.S. production and respond in the event of either terrorist action or unintentional action that results in having a foreign animal disease or other threats.
The White House briefing included many different players, Woodall said, not just the USDA.
“We had the FBI at the table, the National Security Council, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and many other agencies that all understand what threats truly mean to this country and their job in trying to respond to those threats,” Woodall said. “To have them around the table talking about agriculture and talking more specifically about cattle production, I felt was a very positive sign that they understand the role that we play and that they are willing to work with us more in sharing information and putting in place all the procedures that could potentially protect us.”
Foreign animal disease, Woodall said, is at the top of the list for issues that could arise in the future for the industry. A particular foreign animal disease that is most concerning, Woodall said, is foot and mouth disease.
“We know that foot and mouth disease is out there and could be introduced in the United States either unintentionally, just by someone who may have been on a farm or ranch in a country that has foot and mouth disease coming back and not cleaning off their boots- that could unintentionally bring it forward, or intentional introduction by a terrorist group because it would not be hard to get that concentrated, put it in some sort of vessel, and bring it into the United States,” Woodall said.
The next step, Woodall said, is working with the agencies present at the meeting to ensure that they are talking to the agriculture community to find out more about what is going on. Many of these agencies, Woodall added, may not have a lot of expertise when it comes to cattle production, which is where the NCBA can be of valuable help.
“One of those next steps is how we rely more on data, rather than political agendas, to drive not only the identification of the threats, the analysis of the threats, but more importantly the response to the threats,” Woodall said. “I think that will really be important as FDA becomes a part of this particular memorandum. They were at the meeting. We know that if we can really get FDA focused more on data, we can have a much more positive relationship.”
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.