The threat of agro-terrorism is real, and a partnership between Illinois agriculture organizations and law enforcement agencies hopes to protect Illinois farms, consumers and food systems from those threats. This partnership, called the Illinois Agro-Security Working Group, aims to raise awareness of this issue among those in the agriculture and food production industries.

According toFarmweekNow.com, a service of the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB), the Illinois Agro-Security Working Group was created to educate farmers on how to recognize, report and prevent crime and terrorist activities in and around Illinois agriculture. 

Dave Patton, Field Operations Manager with the IFB, believes that farm vulnerabilities are one of the driving forces behind the partnership.

"Illinois farms are more vulnerable to terrorist activity than most people realize," Patton said. "There have been some cases in other states where a person noticing suspicious behavior has helped capture a would-be terrorist, so we know agro-terrorism is a real threat."

A brochure is available for Illinois agriculture producers that provides resources useful in the fight against agroterrorism. Included in the brochure are crime and agro-terrorism indicators, how to report suspicious activities and signs of illnesses.

This brochure is also available for download.

"The brochure doesn't necessarily provide farmers with a comprehensive list of things to watch for, but it certainly gives them a good starting point," Jim Kaitschuk, executive director, Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) said in the FarmweekNow.com report. "Ultimately, our producers know their animals and their operations better than anyone else and they need to be the instigators when it comes to reporting any potential threat."

The Associated Press reports that FBI agent David Ford says creating the working group is an attempt to get in front of security issues before something terrible happens.

In addition to the IFB and FBI,  the working group includes representatives of the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Beef Association, Midwest Dairy Association, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, United States Department of Agriculture - Veterinary Services, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois State Police, Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center and Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

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