USDA has joined with other federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to institute new protections for the nation's food supply against terrorist threats. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says the federal agencies will work with states and private industry to improve bio-terror defenses.

"This partnership demonstrates our commitment as government and the private sector work together to protect our agricultural commodities from terrorism. We look forward to working with our partners," Johanns said.

"Over the next year, teams of federal and state officials will travel to all 50 states to meet with all sectors of the food chain, discussing security issues from farm-to-table and considering ways to better protect the food supply. USDA says four pilot visits will be conducted in September and October. The purpose of these visits is to assess and identify vulnerabilities in the agriculture and food sectors.

Dairy and other food industry representatives in Washington were in a generally celebratory mood following Congressional approval of the U.S. Free Trade Agreement with the Dominican Republic and Central America (DR-CAFTA). Lobbyists had pulled out all the stops to press reluctant lawmakers to approve the agreement, which only squeaked through the House with a vote to spare.

"For our industry, global trade is an essential part of doing business and as the largest trade association serving the processed food and beverage industry in the United States and worldwide, we will continue to help foster an environment, both domestically and abroad, that facilitates trade for processed food and beverage products," Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the Food Products Association, said.

"Passage of DR-CAFTA helps keep the United States in a good position at the table for the larger World Trade Organization Doha Agricultural Round, which we are counting on to yield badly needed reform in agricultural trade," noted Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.