Homeland Security Establishes Agro-Security Centers

Grant negotiations will begin soon to formalize the partnerships of Texas A&M University and the University of Minnesota, which were chosen to lead two new Homeland Security Centers of Excellence on agricultural security. Over the next three years, the universities and their partners will share in a total of $33 million designated for food security and to protect against foreign animal diseases. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate is establishing an integrated network of university-based centers that will conduct multi-disciplinary research and develop innovative educational programs for critical Homeland Security missions.

In other news, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and Irish Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy signed an agreement that calls for the expansion of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) throughout the European Community. "This agreement sets the stage for enhanced cooperation between the United States and the European Community on CSI and other important security programs of common interest," Ridge said. The objectives of the agreement include expanding CSI, establishing minimum standards for risk management techniques, and improving public-private partnerships to secure the logistics chain of international trade. "The European Union and the United States are the two largest trading blocs in the world," said McCreevy. "We, therefore, have the strongest possible incentive for ensuring that transatlantic sea container traffic is subjected to the highest practical level of security checks without impeding the expeditious flow of trade so carefully and successfully developed over many years.

The agreement was signed just days before EU enlargement which added 10 nations to the existing 15-nation European Union.

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