The events of September 11, 2001, are unforgettable, but it's important to also remember one of the byproducts of that disastrous day and its impact on the feed industry: a renewed focus on biosecurity and agroterrorism. Likewise, outbreaks of avian influenza, BSE and other animal health concerns have served as catalysts for emergency planning, improved security measures and better risk analysis where agricultural biosecurity is concerned. While the urgency of immediate response to disaster can fade over time, the feed industry's readiness to handle emergency situations must remain a constant.
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) launched its landmark Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program in September 2004 to address a number of biosecurity concerns. AFIA notes that the program was created to demonstrate and ensure continuous improvement in the delivery of a safe and wholesome feed supply for the growth and care of animals. It is intended for companies interested in demonstrating their pledge to food safety and enhancing consumer confidence in the products they provide. Information on participating in the Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program can be found at the AFIA website, www.afia.org.
Regardless of your type of operation, grain elevator, feed mill, farm-input supplier, soybean processor, or dry or wet corn mill, one of your biggest security issues should be the frequent access to your facility and surrounding grounds by persons other than employees during the loading or unloading of product at the facility. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) notes that another security issue is the potential for intentional contamination of either inbound or outbound products, often labeled agroterrorism. At times, the security of loads in transit also may become an issue to be addressed. Following September 11, NGFA put together a number of recommendations related to biosecurity of trucks. How does your fleet measure up?
These safeguards from NGFA are just as important now as they were nearly six years ago. Ensuring biosecurity during transportation requires working with others involved in the transport process, verifying practices and preparing for incidents beforehand.
Know your supplier. Have receipts of grain, grain products and feed ingredients. Give suppliers a checklist for establishing a security program of their own or a written request for verification of their own security efforts. If in receipt of grain from an unfamiliar supplier, put the product into identity-preserved storage, outside of regular grain flows, until appropriate security and/or quality checks can be conducted.
Have an employee present during unloading. Inspect the shipping documents for ingredient identification, supplier and hauler name. Documents should be dated and contain the lot numbers of the inbound ingredient(s). Check to ensure the product is from the correct origin and shipped to the correct destination. Check bagged products to make sure they are not torn, broken or leaking and have labels of their content. Retain a sample of inbound feed ingredients.
Consider visually inspecting ingredients and grain upon arrival. There is a cost factor involved and not all intentionally added contaminants can be detected through visual inspection or odor. Evaluate such a process for its net cost and benefits.
If some of the farmers bringing grain to your facility have had the grain previously stored on-farm, discuss with them the need to maintain some reasonable security to limit access to on-farm storage facilities.
On outbound shipments, quality generally becomes a contractural issue, but you should establish a formal system of retaining file samples of shipped products for a specified time period.
Managing the security of loads while in transit is difficult because as a shipper, you have limited control.