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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Homeland Security Focus of AgriGard Internet Conference Dec. 16

LAS CRUCES - An Internet conference Dec. 16 will supply expert advice on agricultural homeland security from experts with the FBI, New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and a host of other agencies.

AgriGard Logo (12/10/2003) NMSU

"Our goal is to help people across the state understand that agriculture has an important role in overall homeland security because of its relationship to the food and water supply," said Jerry Schickedanz, dean of NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics. "I think people have tended to downplay the risk of bioterrorism because we live in a sparsely populated area. We'll be focusing on preventing threats to people, animals and plants."

NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service is hosting the event via its Internet conferencing system. Participants will be able to hear presenters and ask questions at viewing sites in county Extension offices and other locations statewide during the Webcast from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Extension, the FBI and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture developed the content for the conference. Topics include biosecurity on the farm, responding to animal health emergencies, information technology vulnerabilities for agriculture, and international threats to agriculture and food.

The conference will open with an overview of homeland security issues from Miley Gonzalez, NMDA secretary/director.

Brig. Gen. Annette Sobel of the New Mexico National Guard, a physician and director of the governor's office of homeland security, will give the keynote address at 8:20 a.m.

Schickedanz will introduce the agricultural section of the conference, which includes an FBI update on biological and chemical threats to food and animals, and an overview of bioterrorism threats to agriculture and food from Terrance Wilson, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's liaison to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Sessions on information technology and animal health threats will wrap up the morning session.

In the afternoon, Natalie Goldberg, Extension plant pathologist, will discuss potential plant threats and the national plant and animal health lab networks. William Yoshimoto, project director with the Agricultural Crime Technology Information and Operations Network, will outline a new focus for agricultural chemical storage and security.

Regina Hunter from Sandia National Laboratories will give a presentation on biosecurity risk assessment. Biosecurity on the farm is the topic for Mary Berry, chairman of the Emergency Preparedness Committee for the New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association.

For more information about the conference, visit the World Wide Web site at http://infragardnm.org. For host sites in your area, contact the county Extension office or call Schickedanz's office at (505) 646-3748. If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please contact the site location in advance.