The American Farm Bureau Federation today urged President George W. Bush to appoint a specialist within the new Office of Homeland Security to help safeguard agriculture and the nation’s food supply from terrorism.

In a letter to President Bush, AFBF President Bob Stallman requested that a special high-level staff position focusing on the prevention of agroterrorism be appointed to serve under Gov. Tom Ridge, head of the new Office of Homeland Security.

“As the nation and the world prepare to embark on a war against terrorism there are concerns and speculation regarding how agriculture and other sectors of the economy will be affected,” Stallman stated. “An attack aimed at the safety of our food supply and agricultural infrastructure could cause widespread and long-term damage. We must continue to increase surveillance and ensure that adequate USDA resources are available to combat any posed biological threat or mobilize against any occurrence.”

The staff position requested by Farm Bureau would develop ways to even better safeguard agriculture and America’s food supply from the potential impact of agroterrorism, according to Stallman.

“We take seriously the ability of terrorists to transmit a foreign animal disease into the United States,” Stallman stated. “Farm Bureau urges that comprehensive preventative measures be endorsed and carried out by the Office of Homeland Security to safeguard the U.S. food supply and agricultural infrastructure.”

Farm Bureau also applauded the appointment of Gov. Ridge to head the Office of Homeland Security, stating he “will provide great leadership in overseeing and coordinating a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism.”