While weather and corporate misbehavior are providing a challenge to domestic tranquility, the government remains concerned about attacks of a foreign source. This week the White House continued its push for the development of a new cabinet level agency. The proposed Office of Homeland Security would, among other things, contain several agencies currently regulating food safety. But, the notion of folding those agencies under a single Office of Homeland Security was given a cool reception on Capitol Hill. <p
The move would send 87-hundred U-S-D-A employees over to Homeland Security. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS is responsible for a long list of duties including plant and animal inspection at the nation's borders and early detection and eradication of pests and diseases.
Rep. Larry Combest(R), Texas: "We also have a responsibility to explore modifications to the legislation to ensure that its good intentions do not collide with sound public policy."
But the move has raised some concerns among members of congress, state departments of agriculture and industry advocacy groups.
Bob Odom, Commissioner, Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry: "This realignment could actually have the unintended consequence of diminishing our biosecurity at the state level, which is our front line of prevention.
Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation: "By transferring APHIS to the new Department of Homeland Security, valuable programs would likely disappear. AFBF has worked diligently over the past several decades to help develop many of these programs to assist today's producers with a variety of production issues. To see these programs face possible reduction or extinction is not good policy either for the government or for agricultural producers."
APHIS operates under 26 different laws, the majority of which give authority to the Secretary of Agriculture. Joining APHIS in Homeland Security will be the Customs Department, INS, and the Department of Transportation.