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Agricultural Resilience: Ensuring Readiness and Resiliency Against Deliberate or Natural High-Consequence Events

Broadcast Date: July 28, 2023

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​​​Webinar Summary​

To safeguard US agriculture effectively, it is necessary to anticipate, identify and assess current and emerging naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate threats of a destructive or otherwise high-consequence nature; to strengthen detection and disruption of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats; and, to synchronize homeland food, agriculture, and health sectors security and supply chain planning and execution. The Health, Food and Agriculture Resilience (HFAR) Directorate within the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Security (DHS OHS) is responsible for coordinating DHS activities related to defending and facilitating the resilience of these critical US sectors.  HFAR, together with Sandia National Laboratories, undertook a mission-capabilities, needs, and gaps assessment to understand better the state of US HFA systems and security capabilities.  DHS HFAR understands the importance and needs to engage actively with agricultural specialists in ​the plant (crops, forests, rangelands, natural environments) and animal (livestock, wildlife, fisheries, aquaculture) sectors. The HFAR concept has a strong foundation in the principles of One Health, in which agricultural production is critical in support of food security and human health security on a global scale.  The recent blockage of wheat exports from Ukraine is just one example of the fragility of our food distribution systems. Input to DHS from APS attendees will be considered in future work of this initiative.

Learning Objectives

  • This session will introduce the Congressional mandate and unique goals and activities of the DHS Office of Health Security, and of the HFAR Directorate, in securing the nation’s food and agricultural sectors
  • Attendees will be aware of recent work by DHS HFAR, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, to develop an architecture of current agencies and entities, and their programs, in the health, food, and agricultural sectors, and of the strengths and gaps assessments resulting from that work
  • The session also will introduce a newly-developed set of training and exercise tools and resources focused on HFAR priorities that will be freely available for use by stakeholders 
  • Finally, attendees will have the opportunity to provide input to DHS and Sandia representatives on these endeavors and to learn how they or their institutions can participate in future HFAR work​


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Kevin Morgan
Department of Homeland Security; Office of Health Security, Health, Food and Agriculture Resilience Directorate

Kevin Morgan works as the Senior International Analyst at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Health Security. Mr. Morgan’s 30-year career with the Federal Government began with his service as a Cryptologist and Russian Linguist in the US Navy, 1991-1997. He initiated his civil service career with the Department of Justice in 1998, working in Native American tribal country on juvenile justice matters. Kevin has also worked for the Department of Defense and the Department of State in various positions involving international collaboration and capacity building in a wide range of diverse fields, such as: civil-military relationship forming; conflict resolution; risk assessment; internet-based training and collaboration tools and methods; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; and export controls and border security. Since 2010, he has worked for DHS in strategic planning, analysis, organizational performance measurement, and in international radiological/nuclear management regime and capacity building. For the past four years, Kevin has worked to resurrect DHS focus and efforts to support the critical food and agriculture sector, and in the public health sphere.

Ann Hammer
Sandia National Laboratories

Ann Hammer, MPH has over 20 years of experience in the field of public health to include working for the Minnesota Department of Health, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, contract support to the US Department of Homeland Security, and with Sandia National Laboratories. In the past 5 years, her concentration has been on strategic planning, decision support, whole of community planning approaches, and exercise development/execution to validate plans and maintain proficiency across all hazards and a multitude of response disciplines. Specific examples of her experience include bioterrorism mitigation and response planning for outdoor and indoor bio-monitoring systems; real-time after-action report development for the COVID-19 response in a major jurisdiction; and conducting a gap analysis with regards to health, food, and agriculture resilience to include the development of catastrophic reference scenarios and stakeholder engagement activities. She has also mentored biological threat reduction leaders in Somalia, India, and Southeast Asia, assisting with tabletop exercise development to inform preparedness and response plans for infectious disease outbreaks.

Jacqueline Fletcher
Oklahoma State University (Emerita)

Dr. Jacqueline Fletcher, Regents Professor (Emerita), Oklahoma State University, received a B.S. (Biology; Emory University), M.S. (Botany; University of Montana), and Ph.D. (Plant Pathology; Texas A&M). She is internationally recognized for research on the virulence and insect transmission of plant pathogenic bacteria, the relationships between human enteric pathogens and plants, and microbial forensics and agricultural biosecurity disciplines​.  She established and directed the National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity. This OSU initiative addresses high-priority national issues in plant pathogen forensics, crop biosecurity,​ and food safety.  Dr. Fletcher served on the American Phytopathological Society (APS) Council, including as President. Following September 11, 2001, she led APS responses and input to National biosecurity initiatives.  She organized and chaired the APS Microbial Forensics Working Group and Food Safety Working Group.  She served on the Forum on Microbial Threats at the National Academies of Sciences and remains active on several federal biosecurity advisory panels, including the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity.  Dr. Fletcher is a Fellow of APS and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  After retiring from OSU in 2015, she now serves as a consultant and advocates for agricultural biosecurity and international scientific diplomacy.

James Stack
Kansas State University, Department of Plant Pathology

After earning BS, MS, and Ph.D. in plant pathology, James Stack served as director of applied research at EcoScience Corporation, developing successful biocontrol agents. Later, joining the Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University, Stack began a remarkable career in plant biosecurity. He served as director of KSU's Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI), a state-of-the-art biocontainment facility for plant, animal, and human health, from 2006-2008.  He provided essential leadership and vision in the development of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), and as director of the regional Great Plains Diagnostic Network. He was the first NPDN executive director, a role he now fills again. 

Stack is internationally recognized as a leader in plant biosecurity. He chaired the APS Advisory Committee on Plant Biosecurity and is the APS liaison to the National Plant Disease Recovery System. His international collaborations have reached Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Bolivia, and Israel. 

Stack's research focuses on developing genome-informed diagnostics for plant-pathogenic bacteria and understanding the epidemiology of plant pathogens. He designs and develops biologically secure systems and identifies agricultural system resilience, stability, and recovery attributes.  

Stack's passion for plant biosecurity is shared with students worldwide, mainly through his acclaimed 5-day short course, “Plant Biosecurity in Theory and Practice."