August 15, 2003
The Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced a partnership agreement to transfer management of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. The agreement provides an added layer of protection to the nation?s agricultural system while also meeting the mandates set out by the Homeland Security Act.
?We look forward to working closely with our USDA colleagues on a focused research and development program and management plan that will help us prevent, respond to and recover from agroterrorism attacks,? said Dr. Charles McQueary, under secretary for science and technology. ?Our commitment to making a safer and more secure environment for our nation and our agricultural community is a top priority.?
Under the agreement, DHS and USDA have launched a joint management program to oversee a four-month transition period. DHS has named Marc Hollander, deputy director of facilities and infrastructure for the Office of Research and Development, as acting center director. Hollander expects to meet with community and business leaders and citizens throughout his tenure to Plum Island.
USDA will continue to perform agricultural animal-health research and foreign animal disease diagnostics programs at Plum Island.
?Plum Island will remain a key part of the U.S. animal health research and diagnostic infrastructure, which is vital to protect the nation?s livestock and poultry from introductions of foreign animal diseases,? said Dr. Joseph Jen, USDA?s under secretary for research, education and economics.
Plum Island researchers will lend their expertise to the department?s biological countermeasures efforts, which will include the prevention, detection and response to high-consequence threats to U.S. agriculture, such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). Plum Island is the only place in the United States where FMD is currently studied.
?Plum Island is a unique laboratory where scientists can safely and securely study foreign animal diseases,? said Dr. Maureen McCarthy, acting director of the DHS Office of Research and Development. ?Plum Island will remain an important national asset in which veterinary and animal disease research scientists from both DHS and USDA will work to protect the health of livestock.?