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Center at UT College of Veterinary Medicine Wins over $5M in Department of Homeland Security Grants

KNOXVILLE  The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicines Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP) at the UT Institute of Agriculture will have a key role in helping to ensure the safety of the nations food supply and helping promote effective response to a disaster involving animals. Of only 11 grants the Department of Homeland Securitys (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded, the veterinary college received two of them totaling nearly $5 million. 

The first award is for a training program to aid in the coordination of resources between the public and private sectors and across state lines by using national credentialing standards in the event of an animal-related disaster. The second is for the development of effective information sharing networks between law enforcement, public safety agencies, and the private sector on the importation and transportation of food and animal feed in the United States. CAFSP will develop and deliver both training programs nationally.

In a news release announcing the grants, Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. said the awards will put UT at the forefront of protecting citizens in the event of an attack or major disaster that could threaten animals or the food supply. With the recalls of tomatoes and peppers earlier this year and the continued concerns about ingredients coming in from other countries, people are questioning the safety of the foods that they put on the dinner table for their families. Lack of information and coordination between all levels of government and the public only stimulates fear, said Duncan. 

DHS awarded $27 million as part of its 2008 Competitive Training Grant Program which awards funds to competitively selected applicants to develop and deliver innovative training programs addressing high priority national homeland security training needs.

UT Vice President for Agriculture, Dr. Joseph DiPietro, said it is important that communities have the resources and training in place to either prevent problems or to address them before they become potentially devastating. Veterinarians play a key role in animal health, food safety, and public health, said DiPietro. Of the grants awarded, the veterinary college received the only ones related to food and agriculture safety. The veterinary college takes very seriously its role in protecting public health on a national scale, concluded DiPietro.

This continues our already developed leadership role in assisting the nation in protecting its critical infrastructure with a focus onthe agriculture and food sectors, said Dr. Sharon Thompson, Director of CAFSP. The grants are in addition to the $500 thousand continuation grant the center recently received to continue delivery of its existing DHS training program which focuses on agricultural vulnerability assessment training for agricultural facility managers and state, county, and local officials to assist in the prevention and deterrence of a weapons of mass destruction attack. The new funding from DHS validates the work we are doing, said Thompson.

With competition for Federal funds stronger than ever, this recognition speaks volumes about the people and the work being done at UT, and I proudly support their efforts, said Duncan. 

 

 

Posted: 09-19-08 Viewed: 39017 times

Media Relations

Sandra Harbison
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996

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