The food and agriculture industry is diverse and involved, as a result, it demands the private sector, state, federal and local government support and input to maintain the sector sustainability. The food and agriculture sector is open hence prone to multiple threatening attacks. The industry can be used by terrorist to attack national economic, and health stability and as a result, it widely demands scrutiny to ensure the right food standard are maintained and approaching threats are swiftly detected and terminated with immediate effect (Godfray et al. 2010). The diversity in the sector has left the traditional physical security strategies in the industry weak and unable to offer adequate protection as the sector demands. Therefore, complexity in the sector call for a definite plan that involves planning, awareness, and preparedness. Due to the complexity and needs of the industry, this paper will explore the role of the private sector and strategies applied in addressing the threats directed to the food and agriculture industry.
Across the world, billions of people live, primarily supported by the food and agriculture industry. Meeting the food demand for all these people is not easy, especially in todays world, where more people have moved to urban centers where food consumption is high, yet production is low. For a state to sustain healthy food supply and sustain continuous output of produce, all individuals are required to work together in aiding farmers across the globe produce high yields, supply the product to the market and at the same time, maintain the fragile environment by conserving the available resources such as land and water. The United States is categorized among the world largest food producers donors, and exporters and therefore, the country agriculture sector becomes government and state most valued assets. The government of the country thus, continue to invest heavily in ensuring the agriculture sector is well maintained, and right standards met for the industry to achieve its goals (Eshel, et al. 2014). Multiple policies are set aside and well-guarded by the law to ensure they are met, and the state population health is maintained.
The food and agriculture sector has a goal to produce, process and deliver quality and healthy foods that feed a wide range of individuals with the United States and outside the boards. The industry encompasses approximately 2million produce farms, one million food-related companies and over 1 million production and manufacturing facilities Godfray, et al. 2010). In the United States, the industry contributes to one-fifth of the national economy overly. Under the private sector, the food and agriculture sector is strategized to operate within a highly competitive market across the world and at the same time work harmoniously with the natural environment. The private sector also ensures that the food and agriculture industry creates economic opportunities and sustain quality life for people in the urban and rural parts of America. For the United States Department of agriculture to achieve all its set goals and missions, it is working closely with other agencies such as the Sector-Specific Agency (SSA) which is in charge of food defense and security. Also working closely are Health and Human Services (HHS) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) an agency responsible for consumable foods in the United States both imports and export (Vollbrecht, 2016).
For any organization in the sector to function in accordance to the law, it must critically understand all its component, which will be a guide to meeting the seven homelands security presidential directive, prioritization and protection, main infrastructure specification and the NIPP strategic infrastructure protection approaches. Although the United States agriculture sector is well planned to meet the state health, economic and environmental standards, multiple threats challenge the state food and agriculture sector sustainability. Some of the most prevalent challenge affecting the food and agriculture industry future include
Water Scarcity and Climate Change
Climate every day continue to disappoint and destabilize the agricultural sector in the United States and across the globe. Climate change impact negatively more in the region where the high growth rates are anticipated greatest. Climate change alters the precipitation patterns resulting in draught and flooding among other catastrophic weather patterns. Climate alteration also affects soil moisture levels, plant growing seasons, increased pest invasion rates due to modification of the pathogen transmission processes which results to the increased presence of pet and insects impairing crop production (Lipper et al. 2014). Gradual adverse changes in animal production are identified because increased heat levels cause stress and irritation to animal and in return, high mortality rates and metabolic disorder in production animals is reported. Change in the climate today has become the most significant threat to food security and agriculture production. Due to climate change more land has been abandoned due to water scarcity, the ground turns into a desert, while crops continually experience diseases, challenging food production.
The agricultural sector relies heavily on cheap energy and the current cost of crude oil has increased. The rise in the cost of energy is a concern since manufacturing of farm products such as pesticides and fertilizers among many other chemicals and equipment operation rely on cheap fossil oil. The increased cost of the fossil fuels triggers increased farming and production cost of production. The high-cost result in reduced profits and farmers are unable to farm and operate with the high price. Farmers are often discouraged from farming, which is unprofitable. The small-scale farmers who produce within the local market in this cases are the most affected since the high fuel prices result to use of more fuel energy during transportation than a person using large-scale framing and transporting the produce halfway across the country Sonnino, Faus & Maggio, 2014).
Land and Ecological Degradation
The natural balance of soil water levels and chemical composition is destroyed resulting to presence of unhealthy soils. The current farming strategies applied to the farms are degrading the excellent soil composition structure and nutrition value. Many farmers are practicing monoculture and over-cultivation of lands, which result in soil reduced nutrition. To replenish the ground, the farms are using chemical and fertilizers instead of using rotational planting methods that replace the soil naturally. Overuse of groundwater also causes land degradation. The modern farmers have opted for irrigation, a technique that draws water from the ground creating reduced groundwater and land desertification. Livestock keeping is also another factor that is contributing to land degradation. Over grazing result to elimination of shrubs and hardy grass exposing the soil to wind and water (Sonnino, Faus & Maggio, 2014). Through soil erosion, topsoil which is nutritious is carried away resulting in land degradation. Farming land, as a result, is becoming less every day, and the land production rate is recorded to be on the decline.
Every day, more people are moving to urban centers, and fewer people left in the rural areas. The movement has resulted in a cultural shift since the consumers are more concentrated in urban areas than in rural areas. According to the last census conducted in 2010 in the United States, approximately 80% of the Americans live in the urban centers, (Bogue, Anderton & Barrett, 2010). As more people move to urban centers the land and urban developers continue to build and use more farming land to develop and expand cities. The numbers of farmers reduce as more consumer increases and more farming land is used for urban development cutting cultivation land, which in return result to reduced food production. Such incidents shortly pose a considerable threat to the food and agriculture industry as food scarcity is bond to increases over time.
The many agricultural threat arising as time progress has raised the alarm, demanding for swift measures to be taken to slow down the negative impacts. The government and the private organization which has been given the mandate to support the critical infrastructure and critical resources are called upon to solve the problem. For a successful intervention, a well-detailed plan that meets the SSP and the CGC regulation standards should be applied to achieve reasonable solution and decisions (Vollbrecht, 2016). The proposed plan to address the agricultural threat has different phases that include, readiness and preparedness. Readiness and preparation demand the involved organization such as (SSA) which is in charge of food defense and security, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be prepared regarding leadership, technology, staff, essential records management, continuity communication and HR program. The phase demands the involved parties to be well knowledgeable of the plan
The second step is the activation, the phase call for activation of the continuity plan as planned and in support of the continued programs. The staff and resources are dispersed in this phase to different location to address the issue and enhance resilience. For example, while addressing the food threats, separate organization in this stage begin to place the plan under action by sending people and resources available to different locations. The third phase is the continuity operation phase involve communicating with the consumers the affected and the stakeholders collecting data about a threat. This is the same phase where necessary measures are applied to solve the problem or reduce a risk (Vollbrecht, 2016). The last step is the reconstruction phase which happens when a solution is arrived at and achieved. The reconstruction, therefore, occur after the threat is over and plans to resume to the regular operations are signed.
Bogue, D. J., Anderton, D. L., & Barrett, R. E. (2010). The population of the United States. Simon and Schuster.
Eshel, G., Shepon, A., Makov, T., & Milo, R. (2014). Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(33), 11996-12001.
Godfray, H. C. J., Beddington, J. R., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J. F., ... & Toulmin, C. (2010). Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. science, 327(5967), 812-818.
Lipper, L., Thornton, P., Campbell, B. M., Baedeker, T., Braimoh, A., Bwalya, M., ... & Hottle, R. (2014). Climate-smart agriculture for food security. Nature Climate Change, 4(12), 1068-1072.
Sonnino, R., Moragues Faus, A., & Maggio, A. (2014). Sustainable food security: an emerging research and policy agenda. International journal of sociology of agriculture and food, 21(1), 173-188.
Vollbrecht, S. S. (2016). Blueprints for disaster: balancing secrecy and transparency of government continuity plans. Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States.
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