College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
AGNR Research

College Partners with USDA-NIFA to Protect our Nation’s Agriculture Enterprise

Nationwide leaders in academia, industry and government convened at UMD to develop tactical scientific strategies to respond to bio-threats
Tactical Sciences Call to Conversation at UMD
Photo Credit: 
Lena McBean

College Park, MD -- This past week, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources hosted a diverse group of representatives from federal, university, commodity groups and regulatory organizations to have a conversation on the tactical sciences for the protection of the US agriculture enterprise. In partnership with USDA-NIFA, this first-of-its-kind meeting convened several of our nation’s leading organizations and experts to develop a cohesive strategy and unified voice to take to decision makers for consideration of support and policy, especially the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill. NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy delivered a motivating charge to the group, asking attendees to consider their individual and collective roles in protecting our food system and overall public health interests from damaging biosecurity threats.

To kick off the two-day summit, Dean Craig Beyrouty discussed the importance of this partnership, and highlighted some specific forces that are laying siege to the integrity of our food supply, namely a changing climate, limited water and land resources and agroterrorism. As the cornerstone of the University’s land-grant mission, the college is uniquely positioned and committed to ensuring a safe and secure global food system, through a hybrid of research and educational programs, and practical application in the community. Provost Mary Ann Rankin followed Dean Beyrouty, who committed University support to the outcome of the deliberations. 

Sonny Ramaswamy spoke next with dedication and passion to six phrases that he felt should form the construct of the conversation between invitees. In asking the group what more they can do as individuals and as members of different communities to ensure the security of our food system, Ramaswamy emphasized the concepts of: 

  • Transforming lives through the delivery of knowledge to the end user

  • Identifying the existential threat

  • National security

  • Challenges and opportunities

  • A vision for a path forward

  • A charge to the group to determine our nation’s tactical sciences efforts

The college is proud to play a leading role in helping to carry out Sonny Ramaswamy’s vision, and to help create a shared vision of the need to protect our global food systems.  

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