Delivering Change: Agricultural Response Team

Abstract

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The Florida State Agricultural Response Team (SART) is a multi-agency coordination group (MAC) consisting of governmental and private entities dedicated to strengthening all-hazard animal and agricultural disaster capabilities.  The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services leads the MAC as a planning, training, and response support group, with the aid of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF IFAS), UF College of Veterinary Medicine, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  SART is composed of partner agencies and organizations including local, state, and federal agencies, private sector entities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Challenge

Following terrorist attacks on the Unites States in 2001, emphasis was placed on the domestic security of critical infrastructure sectors.  Florida SART was assembled to utilize the talents of specialized animal and agricultural organizations throughout the State of Florida.  The recipient of yearly funding from the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), SART was able to procure additional equipment and training to further its mission.  With this increase in capacity, however, SART had grown without defined organizational roles nor a clearly defined strategy.   This contributed to misunderstanding and confusion by members on their participatory responsibilities.  Additionally, SART’s public communications and branding were outdated, further complicating the mission.

The Solution

In 2009, Michael Turner was hired as a contractor with the Apalachee Regional Planning Council to provide support to SART on the challenges they faced.  He has developed local, regional and statewide emergency response planning workshops, involving partners from the agricultural extension community, private-sector industry, local governments, state-level critical infrastructure planners, county emergency managers, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agents on animal health regional planning efforts.  Mr. Turner provided technical and organizational support for the Florida State Agricultural Response Team (FLSART). In this role, he led the development of FLSART’s Standard Operations Guide (SOG) and the FLSART Organizational Declaration.  Throughout this process, focus was placed on developing “strategic imperatives” that would frame decisions for the organization going forward.  Mr. Turner’s dynamic approach to integrating technology into disaster response also lead to an overhaul of Florida SART’s Web site, which receives over 20,000 unique visitors monthly.  This was the final capstone in branding and marketing efforts of the organization.

Mr. Turner served as a contract Emergency Planner for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the Florida State Agricultural Response Team (FLSART).  He was the principal statewide coordinator for the IDCA Critical Infrastructure Data Call.  Mr. Turner also managed the 2011 Florida SART Biennial Planning Conference where he formulated meeting goals, identified and organized team members, managed logistics, developed conference publications, and crafted the development of Web-based registration and evaluation systems.  He was the lead planner during disaster activations with Emergency Support Function (ESF) 17, Animal and Agricultural Issues, for the State Emergency Response Team (SERT).

Today, Florida SART is a nationally-recognized leader in animal and agricultural response operations.  SART teams have been deployed to have support disaster operations throughout the country.

Additional Projects

Working with the Office of Agricultural Emergency Preparedness at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Mr. Turner instructed for the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security’s (WIFSS) DHS-certified Agroterrorism Preparedness Training Curriculum throughout the state.  These courses provide frontline emergency responders with the knowledge of preparing for, and responding to an agricultural disaster under the National Response Framework and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan.  He also served as a Fusion Center Liaison Officer for the North Florida Fusion eXchange (NFFX), and presented Agriculture in Fusion Centers: Challenges & Opportunities at the Symposium on Food and Agriculture Security in Madison, Wisconsin on October 19, 2010.  Additionally, Mr. Turner has coordinated workshops and provided frontline support for state and federal domestic security critical infrastructure protection projects including the Florida Capabilities Assessment, the Food & Agriculture Sector System Criticality Assessment Tool (FAS-CAT), and the Department of Homeland Security NCIPP Data Call.

For more information about the Florida SART program, please visit www.flsart.org.