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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Training program to review readiness for agricultural emergencies

LAS CRUCES - Emergency response personnel from seven south New Mexico counties will be among the first to participate in a pilot program to test a national format for developing an agricultural emergency annex to their county emergency operations plan.

During the Strengthening Communities Through Agrosecurity Planning training, participants will discuss the agricultural industry in each of their counties and what would be the response procedures within their counties during an agricultural emergency, whether it is caused by natural disasters, disease or humans.

New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics' Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Extension Disaster Education Network's Strengthening Communities Through Agrosecurity Planning Committee are sponsoring the training. They will focus on the emergencies that could occur in each county and the damage that could be caused to the agricultural industry and the economy of the county and the state.

The free two-and-a-half day training workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, and Wednesday, Jan. 14, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Dona Ana County Complex, 845 N. Motel Blvd., in Las Cruces

"For the past year, we've been working with 12 land-grand universities' Extension services to develop a national model on training counties on how to prepare an agricultural security annex for their county emergency plan. We are now testing the model with trainings in New Mexico, Utah, Nebraska, Vermont, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and a tri-state area of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama," said Billy Dictson, co-director of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center.

Once the pilot trainings have been completed, final adjustments will be made, Dictson said. The training format will be delivered nationally. "Hopefully someone, such as the national Cooperative Extension Service, will pick up the program and do the training nationwide."

County emergency managers and county Extension agriculture agents from Catron, Dona Ana, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Otero and Sierra counties will participate along with county and city managers and representatives from city police departments, county sheriffs offices, animal control departments, fire departments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and New Mexico Game and Fish departments, U.S. Border Patrol, National Guard, New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Livestock inspectors and New Mexico Department of Health. Also invited to participate are farmers, ranchers, agricultural producers, sale barn owners, food processing plants, dairy owners, as well as bankers, county finance personnel, county commissioners, and district, county and city attorneys.

For more information, contact Bobby Ann Dictson, specialist, Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center, (575) 646-7243. Visit http://cahe.nmsu.edu/area6/NM_pilot/