By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia
Training classes across the state have helped prepare Georgians to respond to an agrosecurity incident.
“Agriculture and food affect every single county in the state,” said Don Hamilton, Homeland Security coordinator for UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Food is distributed in every county through grocery stores, and it’s transported through every county. Agriculture and food span the continuum from farm to fork.”
The committee is hoping to have 3,500 people trained by the end of April when the agrosecurity trainings will draw to a close. The last trainings will be held Tuesday, March 28 in Dawson; Thursday, April 6 in Brunswick; Tuesday, April 11 in Thomasville and Thursday, April 13 in Lawrenceville and Marietta.
The training is free and open to potential agriculture emergency responders. Other classes may be offered through the end of April depending on demand.
“The purpose of these trainings is to get information from the various groups – like farmers and emergency workers – to each other so they will know what the other’s roles are and what each can bring to the table,” Hamilton said.
The class teaches those in emergency management and agriculture- related businesses how to recognize an agricultural incident and minimize potential problems through proper training. It is also geared towards responders from local and state governments and volunteer organizations who respond to all types of emergencies.
“People generally know their own jobs and do them well,” Hamilton said, “but they don’t necessarily know what others will be doing in the same situation.”
For those looking for credit hours, CEUs are available through various agencies. The training is sponsored by the U.S. Office of Domestic Preparedness in cooperation with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Department of Agriculture, UGA and the USDA.
For more information or to register, go to www.agrosecurity.uga.edu.
(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)