The Washington Times - April 28, 2010, 04:21PM

Former Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday animal agriculture was a “likely target for terrorism” and urged it to undertake stronger pubic relations campaigns and Congress-lobbying efforts.

Hutchinson, a former Arkansas Congressman, told the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 9th Annual Stakeholders Summit a terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply would severely reduce exports and thus go a long way to crippling the American economy.

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“Their pattern is to go after something that is [emblematic] of Western civilization,” Hutchinson said, citing the example of Israel’s hobbled citrus economy in 1978 after the terrorist group the Arab Revolutionary Council poisoned Israeli oranges, reducing the country’s orange exports by 40 percent. “You have to recognize that you are a likely target for terrorism.” He said animal agriculture in the United States needs to step up its marketing efforts “so the public understands the industry” and is not taken in by misinformation spread by so-called animal rights groups.

Hutchinson cited such groups as a major threat to the U.S. animal agriculture industry.

“Their goal is to stop the killing of animals and that is incompatible with [our goal] of a safe and secure food industry,” he said.

Because most illegal immigrants come to the United States in search of work, Hutchinson said, if the animal agriculture industry were empowered with a Web-based system that allowed it to check a potential employee’s legal immigration status, the industry could go a long way in helping stop the flow of illegals across our borders.