This report itemizes Congress' options in combating Agro-terrorism. The report covers possible targets, defenses, threats, economic impacts, and other legislation and developments as well. Although U.S. intelligence agencies have not identified any terrorist acts targeting agricultural production in the United States to date, the events of September 11, 2001 have awakened the nation to their possibility. Some experts estimate that a single agro-terrorist attack using a highly contagious livestock disease could cost between $10 billion and $30 billion to the U.S. economy. Experts also recognize weaknesses in the ability of most nations to prevent and contain a biological attack on their agricultural resources. Limited inspection capabilities, lack of rapid diagnostic tools, inadequate coordination between inspection agencies, and little biosafety training of farmers, agronomists, and veterinarians are among the recognized weaknesses. The goal of agro-terrorism is to cripple the biological infrastructure of a nation's agriculture, i.e., its livestock and its crops. Many links in the agricultural production chain are potentially susceptible to attack with a biological weapon. Congress and the Administration are engaged in discussions to protect agricultural production from a terrorist attack, to promote greater awareness and rapid response.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31217