Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) executive director Fletcher R. Hall is leading a campaign to increase awareness among the industry and federal officials on guidelines that can be used to help prevent terrorist attacks on the nation’s agricultural supply chain.
AFTC is a consortium of transporters of agricultural commodities focused on working with the federal government to create voluntary solutions to increase security throughout the industry.
Among the resources to come out of the industry-government partnership is the Guide for Security Practices in Transporting Agricultural and Food Commodities as well as the Resources Directory for Security Practices in the Transportation of Agricultural and Food Commodities. These are intended to aid the industry in creating guidelines for securing their assets from terrorists, as well as to help transporters assess their vulnerabilities and develop plans to address high-risk areas.
“After 9/11 we realized one of the most vulnerable parts of our economy is the food chain,” Hall told Fleet Owner. “There are so many points of entry in which terrorist activity could occur-from the field, the processing plant, the truck yard, to the point of delivery. We need to take a look at how to make the agricultural supply chain more secure, particularly against potential contamination. We’ve been getting more federal mandates. The Bio-terrorism Act being a big example; that hits a lot of people involved with moving food.”
The guide has information specific to both drivers and companies. For drivers, there are security checklists available covering everything from the pre-trip inspection to what to do at the destination, as well as hijacking prevention tips.
“Some of the guidelines are very simple,” noted Hall. “For example, drivers should make sure a mobile phone is available. Action is important-- don’t keep information on suspicious activity to yourself. Make sure you report it and communicate properly. It’s not high-tech and it doesn’t need to be. It’s the constant awareness that matters.
“We sat down with USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) and we found that, other than with meat and poultry, we don’t have many security guidelines that are simple and easy to execute,” Hall continued. “In a year we’ve developed the guides to security practices for both carriers and drivers.
“The fact there are vulnerabilities and they are so diverse is the reason why this needs to be addressed,” Hall said. “If you think about how to disrupt the economy quickly- the most easily accessible and quickly spreading opportunity is the disruption of the food chain. And food that moves everyday by truck is dealing with the potential for intentional contamination- anyone in the industry in need of a good practice should take a lead.”