President Bush’s recommendation to make the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) part of the proposed Department of Homeland Security has drawn questions from farm groups.
In testimony before the House Agriculture Committee, the groups agreed some functions may belong at the new department. But APHIS performs many animal health functions that have nothing to do with security.
Gary Wilson, a cow-calf producer from Ohio, testified for cattle, pork and sheep interests at the hearing.
The livestock industry has created a series of "formidable barriers to the introduction of foreign animal diseases." While foot-and-mouth disease is found on all but two continents, North America and Australia, "we have been free of this disease for over 70 years," he states.
Wilson stresses, "Regardless of how the Department of Homeland Security is designed, we firmly believe that this science and risk-based process of determining and guarding against threats with a multiple series of firewalls will be the basis for our continued success. These must be the guiding principles."