Vol. 7, No. 12, December 2011

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Training Update: WIFSS & FDACS

The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security of University of California-Davis in collaboration with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Regional Domestic Security Task Forces is offering the following Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) certified agroterrorism awareness courses in Florida. The courses are open to all US citizens, and are free of charge (lunch not provided) through DHS grant funding.

Thursday, December 15
AWR 153 Principles of Detection and Diagnosis – Strategies and Technologies
Registration at 7:30 am; Workshop from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Indian River Research and Education Center, 2199 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945

Friday, December 16
AWR 154 Principles of National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) and Risk Communication
Registration at 7:30 am; Workshop from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Indian River Research and Education Center, 2199 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945

Thursday, February 9, 2012
AWR 155 Principles of Frontline Response to Agroterrorism and Food Systems’ Disasters
Registration at 7:30 am; Workshop from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Indian River Research and Education Center, 2199 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945

Friday, February 10, 2012
AWR 156 Principles of Planning and Implementing Recovery
Registration at 7:30 am; Workshop from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Indian River Research and Education Center, 2199 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945

Thursday, February 16, 2012
AWR-152 Principles of Preparedness for Agroterrorism and Food Systems’ Disasters
Registration at 7:30 am; Workshop from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Volusia County Health Department, 1845 Holsonback Drive, Conference Room 516C, Daytona Beach, FL 32117

Friday, February 17, 2012
AWR-156 Principles of Planning and Implementing Recovery
Registration at 8:00 am; Workshop from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
USDA Farm Service Agency, 4401 NW 25th Place, Suite M (a few doors down from Ichiban Sushi), Gainesville, FL 32606

To find additional information about each course and to register on-site please visit http://dhs.wifss.ucdavis.edu/agroterrorism/classes/classesbydate.php.
If you have any questions please contact John Burkette at (850) 245-1387 or email John.Burkette@freshfromflorida.com


Florida SARC Schedules Classes

The Florida State Animal Response Coalition offers three levels of Emergency Animal Sheltering Training: Awareness, Operations and Technician. Each level builds upon the previous level's knowledge and experience. Training is job/task based. “After you take these courses, when you are called upon to assist,” says SARC’s Pam Burns, “you can be confident you know and understand the job you are being deployed to do.”

Awareness Level Sheltering training is the foundation course required to assist with caring for sheltered animals during a disaster. Course topics include:

Personal Preparedness

Animal Behavior

Overview of the Incident Command System

Stress Management

Deployment Preparedness

Code of Conduct for Response

Assisting in Shelter Set Up

Zoonotic Disease

Daily Care and Feeding

Personal Safety

Proper Cage Cleaning and Disinfection

Post Traumatic Stress and more...

Four Free courses are scheduled for January-February 2012. To register, go to http://www.flsarc.org/Training.html.

Saturday January 14
Awareness Level Small Animal Emergency Sheltering
Sponsored by Cat Depot!, 2542 17th St., Sarasota
This is a required one-day course (9:00 am to 6:00 pm) to be able to respond with Florida State Animal Response Coalition. It includes both classroom presentations and hands on practical experience.

Sunday January 22
Awareness Level Small Animal Emergency Sheltering
Sponsored by Collier County Domestic Animal Services, 3299 Tamiami Trail East, Naples
This is a required one-day course (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) to be able to respond with Florida State Animal Response Coalition. It includes both classroom presentations and hands on practical experience.

Saturday January 28
Awareness Level Small Animal Emergency Sheltering
Sponsored by Putnam County Emergency Management, Putnam County Agricultural Center, 111 Yelvington Road, East Palatka
This is a required one-day course (9:00 am to 6:00 pm) to be able to respond with Florida State Animal Response Coalition. It includes both classroom presentations and hands on practical experience.

Saturday February 11
Awareness Level Small Animal Emergency Sheltering
Sponsored by Second Chance  Rescue – 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg. #3, Bunnell (386)206-9566

This is a required one-day course (9:00 am to 6:00 pm) to be able to respond with Florida State Animal Response Coalition. It includes both classroom presentations and hands on practical experience.


Operation Bovine Reclamation

“We have to consider all the different possibilities for terrorism and the different ways that some organization or group of terrorists might try to affect the way we live our lives,” said Captain Andy Ray with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.


The December 5-6 full-scale exercise called Operation Bovine Reclamation is completed. Held at the Polk County Extension Office, Bartow (Polk County) it involved a full spectrum of local, state and federal authorities.

The scenario was designed to test response and coordination to a terrorist incident involving cattle is now completed.

It began when a truck crashed into a livestock trailer. The people who caused the crash fled. While searching for them – and this included a ground search and a helicopter, says SART’s David Perry, who worked with scenario designers to develop a fully functional agricultural program – investigators learned the blue barrels in the back of the truck were filled with chlorine, a deadly chemical.

Photos courtesy Kendra Stauffer, DVM, DACVPM
Area Emergency Coordinator, USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services

When the suspect drivers were identified and found to be connected to a domestic action network, “just an accident,” became a home-grown terrorist incident. “Now we’re dealing with health issues with the cows and the public,” Joseph Rachel, Region 4 Exercise Officer for FEMA told ABC reporter Ryan Raiche.


The exercise tested the ability to provide animal disease emergency support, to communicate smoothly in a fluid and chaotic situation, to begin counter-terror efforts and law enforcement investigations, to estimate Florida’s food and agricultural safety and defenses and test on-site incident management.


“If someone is able to introduce something that can harm people through food-borne illnesses, then we need to be ready for that and respond to that,” said Captain Ray. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp for information about chlorine.


“I thought Operation Bovine Reclamation was a good exercise – things went pretty good. Dr. Cynda Crawford and I came from the UF Vet School. Dr. Jan Hasse, Dr. Terry Clekis and Dr. Bill Shelton from Florida Vet Corps also participated.

“The exercise was an opportunity for us to operate in different roles from normal, and those roles we practice for hurricane or other natural disaster response. We’ve spent a lot of time planning and practicing for hurricanes and we’ve practiced for companion animals and horses, but this added a hazmat theme and a potential underlying disease component. These are areas SART should be prepared for, but doesn’t get to practice much, so it was great to go through all that in an exercise.

“It was also nice being a responding unit, and bolting onto someone else’s incident management team. Usually SART, with FDACS in the leader roles, has to staff the IMT and do all the paperwork and planning. I think it was valuable to actually move resources and go through the steps versus just having a table top exercise.”

John Haven, Director
UF School Veterinary Medicine


Photos courtesy Kendra Stauffer, DVM, DACVPM
Area Emergency Coordinator, USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services

“I was part of the evaluation team for the exercise. We watched and took notes on everything, and then when the exercise officially ended the evaluators went to work.

“This was Polk County’s first full scale exercise for an agro-terrorism chemical spill, by the way, and I think everyone learned a lot. It’s so much easier to do a table-top exercise – and it was hot out there – so I think this went awfully well and everyone got some valuable experience seeing problems from other points of view.

“It was the first time many of these folks had ever worked together and it surprised me that a lot of the people put into leadership positions were fairly junior, without a lot of experience. You’d expect things to run fairly smoothly with experienced, senior staff, but it was a learning exercise and so this was a great way for the junior staff to learn about inter-agency coordination and how to integrate commands and operations.

“The exercise didn’t go ‘as planned’ and that’s to be expected – and is in a way one of the ideal outcomes. Sometimes people learn more if they encounter difficulties and have to work through them … and we had some coordination and communication issues at first.

“SART is so used to responding as a stand-alone team, doing its own paperwork, that when it was initially put into the operational division of the Unified Command structure, it was a new experience for them and they had to adjust. Once the initial uncertainty got sorted out, the SART people assessed the animals and made recommendations in a mere 32 minutes. That was just incredible for people who don’t work together on a daily or even weekly basis to be able to come together and form a highly functioning team. It was very impressive.”

Kendra Stauffer, DVM, DACVPM, Area Emergency Coordinator
USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services
Evaluator for Animal Disease Emergency Support Capability


The AVMA Report
on Pet Ownership in the U.S. (2007)

Companion animals






Households owning





Households owning (#)





Average number owned per household





Total number in U.S.





Veterinary visits per household per year





Veterinary expenditure per household per year





Veterinary expenditure per animal






Exotic Animals


Households (in 1,000s)

Population (in 1,000)













Guinea Pigs






Other Rodents












Other Reptiles



Other Birds






All others



Source: U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook (2007 Edition) http://www.avma.org/reference/marketstats/sourcebook.asp


California says it is Totally Unprepared!

California, the state that shakes, has developed a series of advertisements, videos and even a web site called Totally Unprepared.

The Golden State of course must prepare for some emergencies that Florida only reads about – earthquakes, avalanches and tsunamis – but some it shares with the Sunshine State – tropical storms, animal diseases, food-borne illnesses, and vast and seemingly endless wildfires.

But the California approach is different. It is, in fact, unique. The state site at www.totallyunprepared.com takes a view of citizen preparedness that it is easiest to teach when people are having fun. Several straight-forward but entertaining hosts - Ron Haralson, Los Angeles County Fire Captain, and Geena “the Latina” – demonstrate survival techniques assisted by community volunteers. 

A recent video for example begins with a question from viewer Alyssa Shannon who asks how her heavy indoor aquarium would fare in a quake considering that its weight makes it quite difficult to move.

A collaborative effort between the California Emergency Management Agency, the California Seismic Safety Commission (CSSC) and the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), Totally Unprepared is an insightful multimedia campaign that aims to help Californians better understand their risk of earthquakes and how to prepare for them.

Totally Unprepared’s Susan Jekarl goes to the Jacob’s School of Engineering at UC San Diego – home to a large “shake table” used to test models to see how well they hold up against the forces of earthquakes. It doesn’t take long before Alyssa’s expectations – and one very large fish tank – are shattered.

Check out the Totally Unprepared videos at www.totallyunprepared.com or www.YouTube.com/weareunprepared or www.Facebook.com/totallyunprepared.


And Of Note….

Giant African Snail Video

The Giant African Snail is now starring in a movie. The 4-minute, 16-second video was produced by FDACS-DPI and USDA-APHIS-PPQ this year in Miami. Check it out on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/

If you live in South Florida – where the snails are now multiplying – this is a must-see video. This invasive snail apparently feeds on practically anything that doesn’t feed on it first, including stucco! It also carries rat lung worm, the parasite that can transmit meningitis to humans. Watch this video and you’ll be out patrolling your yard with a plastic bag and latex gloves, guaranteed.

Ag Awareness in Tampa Bay

The largest recent animal disease outbreak in the U.S. occurred in 1983-84, when [name that disease (see credit below)] swept through Pennsylvania and neighboring states. <Hint> Poultry prices for consumers jumped by $350 million. A 6-month eradication plan cost the federal government $63 million.

A food contamination scare similar to the one that hit the Belgium poultry industry in the late 1990s could jeopardize $140 billion in annual U.S. agricultural exports. Soybean rust could wipe out an $8 billion/year industry. Asian longhorn beetles could be used to kill maple trees and cripple syrup production in New England. Any targeted agricultural industry could suffer catastrophic losses.

In 1970 leaf blight destroyed about $1 billion worth of corn in the U.S. Between 1993 and 1998, fusarium head blight affected successive wheat harvests in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Manitoba. The disease spread over 10 million acres, probably with the help of abnormally wet weather and cost an estimated $1 billion in lost production.

Diseases that can be passed to humans would have even greater impact. In 1988, the value of British beef and beef products was estimated at $880 million (US). After bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") emerged, its value plummeted. After a 1996 announcement of a probable link between consumption of BSE-affected meat and a new variant of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in humans, the value fell to $0.

[A very slightly edited excerpt from “Florida Business Disaster Survival Kit” at
www.fldisasterkit.com, a site designed by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.]
Name that disease? “Avian Influenza

Of Ag and Pet Interest: Congress Lifts Horse Ban

In 2006, Congress de-funded horse meat inspections in the Agricultural Appropriations bill. No money, no inspections and no meat could not be sold. The bill remained in effect for five years. In renewal this year Congress’ options were to ban export for slaughter or lift the domestic slaughter ban. Last month, President Obama signed a spending bill that restores the horse meat packing industry by restoring money for inspections.

Earlier this year, a GAO report said the current ban on processing horses for meat was not effective, and had simply shifted the processing business to Mexico and Canada. The ban, it said, also depressed prices for horses in the U.S. and led to a surge in reports of neglect or abuse as owners of older horses had no way of disposing of them.

  • Nebraska Representative Adrian Smith said, “Reinstating a humane, accountable and legal management tool is good for horses, good for owners and is good policy.”
  • PETA’s David Perle said, “To reduce suffering, there should be a ban on the export of live horses, even if that means opening slaughterhouses in the U.S. again. But the better option is to ban slaughter in the U.S. and ban the export of live horses so that no one is slaughtering America’s horses.”
  • Michael Markarian, of the HSUS Legislative Fund, said any state that allows a horse-processing plant to open will face pressure. “Americans don’t eat horses, and don’t want them butchered and shrink-wrapped and sent to France or Japan as a delicacy.”

In 2010, about 138,000 horses were exported for slaughter, and another 30,000 horses were shipped for other purposes, though some of those likely were sent to feedlots to be fattened for slaughter. Other than the U.S., horse meat is standard consumable fare in most countries of the world.

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says no horse slaughterhouses currently operate in the U.S. and no horse meat is currently produced for human consumption, but the agency would be ready for inspections if a facility opens.


This is an 81-minute feature-length documentary produced and in 2009 by San Francisco film director Geralyn Pezanoski (Smush Media) that tells the story of some of the pet victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005: They survived Katrina, but will they find their way home?

“At its core,” says Pezanoski, “it's an exploration of the bond between people and animals and how that bond is intensified in the face of tragedy and loss.”

Here is what the film web site at http://minemovie.squarespace.com/ - where you can watch a 2:43 trailer – says: Pezanoski’s documentary is told from the perspective of original guardians, rescuers and adoptive parents of “Katrina pets.” These individuals are all connected by two things, she says, the tragic aftermath of Katrina and their love of animals. MINE presents the complexity of an intensely emotional situation that has no simple answers.

A tragedy of this scale reveals the worst and brings out the best in humankind and presents an opportunity for meaningful social change. A meditation on human more than animal nature, MINE is a compelling, character-driven story that challenges us see the way we treat animals in our society as an extension of how we treat each other.

[NOTE: The editors have not yet seen this film, but have studied the web site and watched the trailer online. The points made in the film appear to illustrate topics that responders will deal with in the aftermath of emergencies.]

"The OAEP & Agroterrorism

Since September 11, 2001, more than $25 million have been utilized by FDACS to prepare for and prevent agroterrorism events. About $18 million came from federal monies. The balance was provided through state appropriation.Priority initiatives have been:

  1. Geospatial Data Integration for real-time mapping and analysis of FDACS’ facilities, employee locations, resources and regulated entities. The anticipated result is to reduce response time and reduce impact to humans, loss of animal life, and economic damages.
  2. Laboratory Construction, Renovation, and Upgrades to renovate a suite in FDACS’ Food Laboratory, and construct a new annex at the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. The resulting state-of-the-art Biological Safety Level III (BSL III) laboratory suites lets employees safely test for dangerous agents and diseases such as anthrax, foot and mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
  3. Border Protection used funding for an agricultural interdiction station on I-10 eastbound near the Florida/Alabama border. This facility opened in 2006. FDACS purchased four portable gamma ray vehicles for agricultural interdiction or high profile events. These units can provide an “x-ray view” of a tractor trailer in a minute.
  4. Domestic Security Exercises for homeland security and emergency preparedness. Exercises are held in partnership with industry, law enforcement, fire, emergency management, health and other responders. They have significantly improved Florida’s terrorism preparedness.
  5. State Agricultural Response Team (SART) is a multi-agency, coordinated effort dedicated to planning for agricultural-related emergencies.

Agroterrorism is the deliberate introduction of a chemical or a disease agent, either against livestock/crops or into the food chain, for the purpose of undermining stability and/or generating fear. (Office of Agricultural Emergency Preparedness - http://www.freshfromflorida.com/aep/)

APHIS Calendars – Naked Birds!

APHIS’ 2012 Biosecurity For Birds calendar is now available. The calendar is an excellent way to raise awareness about infectious poultry diseases such as avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease, as well as help bird owners learn about bio-security. Order your calendar at the “Biosecurity For Birds” web site http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/.

Did you know? Agricultural Facts & Estimates – Spotlight Peanuts

World peanut production totals approximately 29 million metric tons (64 billion pounds) per year. China is by far the largest producer followed by India and, a distant third, American farmers producing 1.9 million metric tons (4.2 billion pounds).

According to 2006 figures from UF’s IFAS Florida is the 4th largest state peanut producer (behind Georgia, Texas and Alabama), growing about nine percent of the national crop on 120,000 acres. The average yield per harvested acre at that time was 2,500 pounds. Thus the total Florida crop was about 300 million pounds and had a value of about $55 million.

The latest from FDACS reporting on 2010 statistics suggested that Florida agriculturalists harvested 135,000 acres of “dry peanuts” with a yield of 3,400 pounds per acre for a total production of 459 million pounds. Cash receipts were listed at about $70 million. (www.florida-agriculture.com/agfacts.htm)

Check out the Florida Peanut Producers Assn. web site at www.flpeanuts.com. A web site with a broader view of world (and U.S.) peanut production from Soyatech, LLC can be found at www.soyatech.com/peanut_facts.htm.

Exotic Cockroaches in Florida

According to a report by IFAS’ Phil Koehler and Roberto Pereira at the University of Florida, several new cockroach species have entered Florida. They join the 69 species already in the U.S., nearly half of which were brought in from other countries.

The Turkestan cockroach, for example, hitchhikes into the state on gear brought back by troops returning from the Middle East. This has led to Roach Farms! Reptile enthusiasts raising the insects as lizard food say roaches are less noisy and smelly than crickets … and they multiply faster, a fact any Florida home-owner without a regular insect inspection knows all too well.

Koehler and Pereira warn about the potential appearance of the three-inch long Madagascar hissing roach, the lobster roach and the orange spotted roach. All of these roaches are available to anyone willing to plunk down a credit card in cyberspace, anyone with Internet connections.

The Turkestan roach, by the way, becomes prevalent in sewer systems and is capable of carrying bacteria that cause dysentery.

[NOTE: Read the entire article “Exotic Cockroaches Appear in Florida”  http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2008/2008-10-09-092.asp. The Environment News Service is the original daily international wire service of the environment. Established in 1990 by Editor-in-Chief Sunny Lewis and Managing Editor Jim Crabtree, it is independently owned and operated.]


About the SART Sentinel

The SART Sentinel is an e-mail newsletter prepared monthly by the members of the Florida State Agricultural Response Team. Past issues of the Sentinel are archived on the Florida SART Web Site www.flsart.org.

If you have a story or photo that you would like to have considered for publication in the SART Sentinel, please contact the editors.

Editor: Rick Sapp, PhD, Technical Writer under contract with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry rsa5@cox.net.

Associate Editor: Joe Kight, State ESF-17 Coordinator, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry Joe.Kight@freshfromflorida.com