Gary W. Black, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner, is reminding sellers and users of agricultural chemicals and equipment to continue their vigilance with security measures to ensure that their products not fall into the wrong hands.
"Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our nation became more focused on our security and began to take extra precautions. This heightened alertness and awareness extended to farmers, structural pest control operators, garden centers, fertilizer dealers and agricultural businesses. Some of our fertilizers, pesticides and equipment can be misused to harm people. For example, ammonium nitrate, a high-nitrogen fertilizer, has been used in isolated terrorist activity here and abroad," said Commissioner Black.
"The increased security after 9/11 has become standard practice for the most part. But as we approach the tenth anniversary of that dreadful day, I feel it is appropriate to remind everyone to remain vigilant and continue the security measures,'" said Black.
Black made the following suggestions to assist users and dealers of agricultural chemicals with their security plans:
1. Have a list of all emergency contacts and telephone numbers. Introduce yourself to local law enforcement and your local fire department personnel. Make sure they are familiar with your operation so they can do a better job with their surveillance and respond more effectively in the event of a fire. An emergency should not be the first time you meet these responders.
2. Train your personnel to know your products and what your customers will normally ask for and what they will use them for.
3. Report all suspicious activities, vehicles or persons to law enforcement. For example, does a stranger insist on paying with cash, not want delivery, seem unfamiliar with fertilizer or farming, insist on ammonium nitrate and is nervous or hesitant when asked for information?
4. Report all threats on personnel and facilities.
5. Report all thefts, inventory shortages, or missing products or equipment that could pose a public health or safety risk. Keep track of inventory so you will know immediately if a theft has occurred.
6. Report all burglaries or attempted burglaries, sabotage to facilities or equipment, and all vandalism. This includes any sign of product tampering.
7. Visit the website of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at www.atf.gov/explosives/programs/ammonium-nitrate-security/ to learn more about security issues and ammonium nitrate.
8. Threats and time-sensitive information should be reported to local law enforcement. Tips may be reported to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Office of Homeland Security at http://bit.ly/qwaIoL.
"It may be difficult for many of us to think of someone using our tools of agriculture in destructive ways," said Commissioner Black. "However, it is better to prevent a problem than to have to deal with the aftermath. Although it has been ten years since the attacks of 2001, we must remain vigilant."