April 15, 2009

If a disaster were to hit the state's livestock industry, not only would animals be in danger, but it could negatively impact the economy and food security. These impacts could be minimized if individuals in the agriculture and emergency management sectors are prepared and well equipped to deal with a potential emergency.  

Professionals with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service are helping communities across the state prepare for potential agricultural disasters through two different pilot projects: the Extension Disaster Education Network Animal Agrosecurity and Emergency Management seminar and the EDEN Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Planning workshop.

UK extension specialists played a leading role in the development of these two trainings. They developed the seminar and through a partnership with New Mexico State University and several other additional support institutions, created the workshop curriculum with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EDEN.

"These trainings provide a perfect conduit for emergency preparedness managers to get information on potential agrosecurity issues and connect them to local extension agents," said Andrea Husband, UK agrosecurity program coordinator. "Few people besides extension agents know the breadth and depth of a county's commodities and the key agricultural components that would need to be protected in the event of a disaster."

The seminar is an eight-hour course designed to educate community members on potential agricultural emergencies and emergency management principles. Husband and Ricky Yeargan, UK senior extension associate, will teach participants how to recognize threats, identify vulnerabilities and establish an action plan for animal disasters. Also, it will provide an opportunity to create community partnerships between emergency management and agriculture sectors. All interested stakeholders, such as agricultural producers, emergency responders, law enforcement, local elected officials, and extension professionals, are encouraged to attend.

Seminars are planned for May 11 to 12 in Boyd County, May 14 to 15 in Pulaski County and May 20 to 21 in Muhlenberg County. The sessions will be held at the county extension office and will run from noon to 5 p.m. on the first day and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the second day. All times are local.

The EDEN Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Planning workshop builds on the seminar by providing a more in-depth look at a broad spectrum of agricultural and natural resources issues and emergency planning concepts.  Husband, Yeargan and Ray Burden with University of Tennessee extension, will help teams work on the agricultural component of their county's emergency operations plan, which the state has asked local emergency management professionals to update.

County teams attending the workshop can include members from emergency management, extension, public health, volunteer organizations, law enforcement, local elected officials, and commodity representatives.

The two-day workshop is scheduled for June 1 to 2 at Lake Barkley State Resort Park.  On June 1, the workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT and, on June 2, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT.

Several universities across the nation already are using the seminar to strengthen their agrosecurity educational programs. Currently, several states are piloting the workshop, and it is projected to go nationwide.

Continuing education credits for local elected officials are available for both the workshop and the seminar. Workshop participants can earn up to 13.75 hours of credit, and those who attend the seminar can receive up to 7 credit hours.

For more information on the seminar or the workshop, visit the UK agrosecurity trainings Web site at http://www.ca.uky.edu/anr/s-cap.htm.

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