The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have created a free online tool to help farmers and producers assess and mitigate vulnerabilities in their production processes.
"This assessment tool helps the producer understand how someone intending to disrupt agriculture might think," said Stephen F. Sundlof, DVM, Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Producers can easily identify weak spots in their operation and receive practical advice on countermeasures they can put in place."
Cindy Smith, APHIS administrator, agreed. "Being prepared is a tremendous asset. Farmers can now see firsthand what they can do to protect themselves and U.S. agriculture."
The risk assessment tool, called Agriculture CARVER + Shock, was originally developed by the U.S. military to identify areas that might be vulnerable to attack. The FDA and USDA worked with Sandia National Laboratories to adapt the model to the food and agriculture sector to evaluate potential vulnerabilities in the supply chains of different foods and food processes.
Farms of all sizes can benefit from this tool. Producers are asked a series of questions about each component of their production process. Based on the responses, Agriculture CARVER provides scores for those components and specific risk mitigation measures are recommended. These might include upgrades or enhancements to physical security, process operations or a change in personnel practices. Any information entered into the program is not recorded or retained by either FDA or APHIS.
For more information or to access the free software, visit www.fda.gov/Food/FoodDefense/CARVER.