Published on 01/05/06

Agroterrorism training prepares responders

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Georgia isn’t immune to agroterrorism or natural disasters. People across the state are readying for emergencies from hurricanes to the Asian bird flu to intentional threats. Preparations are starting at agrosecurity trainings.

Presented by the Georgia Committee on Agriculture and Food Defense and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, agrosecurity awareness trainings began last July and are slated to continue into early 2006. About 1,500 people have been trained so far, with slots ready for about 2,000 more applicants.

The next session will be Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Gainesville, Ga., and on Thursday, Jan. 26 in Fayetteville, Ga.

“Agriculture and food affect every single county in the state,” said Don Hamilton, homeland security coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Food is distributed in every county through grocery stores, and it’s transported through every county. Agricultural and food security should span the continuum from farm to fork.”

The committee is hoping to have 3,500 people trained when the classes wrap up in the spring. The training is free and open to potential agriculture emergency responders.

“The purpose of these trainings is to get various groups – like farmers and emergency workers – to share information and become aware of each other’s role in an agrosecurity emergency,” Hamilton said.

The class teaches those in emergency management and agriculture- related businesses how to recognize an agricultural incident and minimize potential problems through proper training. It is also geared toward responders from local and state governments and volunteer organizations who respond to all types of emergencies.

“People generally know their own jobs and do them well,” Hamilton said, “but they don’t necessarily know what others will be doing in the same situation.”

Participants can also earn continuing education units. The training is sponsored by the U.S. Office of Domestic Preparedness in cooperation with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Department of Agriculture, UGA and the USDA.

For more information or to register, go to

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Stephanie Schupska is the communications coordinator with the University of Georgia Honors College.