DATCP Response to Agricultural Emergencies
With dairy and agriculture as Wisconsin’s top industries, the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) coordinates efforts to educate food and dairy processors, producers and other agribusinesses of potential threats. DATCP also helps identify vulnerabilities and develop procedures and protocols for responding to and recovering from various types of agricultural emergencies or disasters. Additionally, DATCP responds when requested by Wisconsin Emergency Management for incidents or natural disasters in which Emergency Support Function 11 – Agriculture and Natural Resources is activated.
Examples of events in which DATCP would participate in or oversee emergency response efforts include:
- An outbreak of a foreign animal disease
- Widespread flooding
- An infestation of a plant pest or disease
- A long term power outage
DATCP is organized into six divisions and the Office of Secretary. The divisions include: Animal Health, Agricultural Development, Management Services, Food Safety, Agricultural Resource Management, and Trade and Consumer Protection. Each division is responsible for specific aspects of agricultural emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts.
The Animal Health division works closely with agricultural producers and veterinarians to diagnose, prevent, and control serious domestic animal diseases that threaten the food chain and public health.
During an emergency or disaster the Animal Health division assists in response and recovery efforts by:
- Investigating possible animal disease outbreaks
- Issuing quarantine and stop movement orders on affected livestock and/or premises
- Consulting with stakeholders and partners on possible disease effects on livestock
- Providing technical advice for disposal of diseased animal carcasses to minimize spread of disease
The Agricultural Development division assists Wisconsin’s agricultural community in developing new business opportunities and helping tap new markets for Wisconsin agriculture. The division seeks to help Wisconsin farmers and agribusiness in a variety of ways.
During an emergency or disaster the Agricultural Development division assists in response and recovery efforts by:
- Partnering with other state and local agencies to help with recovery efforts
- Providing assistance to disaster-affected agricultural businesses
- Providing disaster recovery support through the Wisconsin Farm Center.
The Management Services division provides department-wide administrative and general services. In addition to the traditional work of the bureaus, the division oversees the department's employee health and safety program, space and facility management, fleet operations, geographic information system (GIS), training, and laboratory services.
The Bureau of Laboratory Services conducts chemical, biological, physical and microbiological testing to support various DATCP programs. The Bureau of Laboratory Services analyzes animal feed, soil and water samples to support the Agricultural Resources Management division. During investigations, the bureau collaborates with the Food Safety division to test for adulterated food and meat. The bureau is also instrumental in helping the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) link illnesses with specific food contamination by isolating genetic strains of disease causing bacteria from food so DHS can compare them with genetic strains from clinical samples.
During an emergency or disaster the Management Services division assists in response and recovery efforts by:
- Providing Human Resources support to DATCP employees responding to emergencies
- Providing laboratory services
- Providing GIS/Mapping services for agency programs and coordination with partner agencies
The Food Safety division programs are divided between the Food Safety and Inspection bureau and the Meat Safety and Inspection bureau. The Food Safety and Inspection bureau focuses on dairy and food products. This bureau licenses and inspects dairy and food operations including dairy farms, dairy plants, bulk milk tankers and milk distributors, food processing plants and retail establishments. The Meat Safety and Inspection bureau is responsible for the regulation of meat and poultry establishments.
During an emergency or disaster the Food Safety division assists in response and recovery efforts by:
- Assisting industry with issuing recall notices
- Ordering product holds for suspect foods
- Suspending slaughter operations and condemning contaminated meat
- Investigating complaints related to food-borne illnesses in coordination with the Department of Health Services
Agricultural Resource Management
The Division of Agricultural Resource Management implements a wide variety of programs aimed to protect land, water and plants.
The Agrichemical Management bureau administers Wisconsin’s regulatory and enforcement programs associated with commercial animal feeds, fertilizers, pesticides and other plant production and pest control materials used in agricultural, urban and industrial settings. As part of these programs, staff license products, certify and license applicators, respond to agrichemical spills, monitor groundwater for pesticides and nitrates, investigate complaints, enforce regulations in the field, oversee and reimburse agrichemical facilities’ clean-up work and issue grants to municipalities.
The Land and Water bureau administers a variety of land and water conservation programs, including those that prevent soil erosion and protect water quality from run-off. The Land and Water Resource Management program provides staffing and cost-share grants to counties to support local land conservation efforts. Working closely with its local, state and federal partners, staff also administer the Wisconsin Farmland Preservation, Conservation Reserve Enhancement, Nutrient Management, Agricultural Impact Statement and Livestock Facility Siting programs and oversee county drainage boards. Bureau staff provides engineering and technical assistance to counties and farmers, as needed.
The Plant Industry bureau works to control serious plant pests, diseases and exotic species that threaten Wisconsin’s crops, forests and plant communities by conducting field surveys, responding to pest outbreaks, implementing and enforcing plant pest quarantines and regulations and licensing nursery growers and dealers. The Bureau also issues phytosanitary certificates that are required to ship agricultural products internationally and administers the gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, seed, Christmas trees, apiary, and agricultural pest survey programs.
During an emergency or disaster the Agricultural Resource Management division assists in response and recovery efforts by:
- Responding to contamination from agrichemicals
- Investigating unexplained animal deaths through an integrated Toxic Response Team
- Providing technical assistance for soil and water conservation practices
- Implementing import and quarantine controls to limit destructive pests
The Trade and Consumer Protection division has primary responsibility for Wisconsin's consumer protection programs, including administration and enforcement of laws regulating deceptive advertising and consumer fraud. In Wisconsin, trade practices must be regulated to ensure fair and transparent competition. To protect the trade and agricultural industry from fraud and financial harm, business practices and financial conditions are closely monitored by the division.
During an emergency or disaster the Trade & Consumer Protection division assists in response and recovery efforts by:
- Protecting consumers from price gouging during abnormal economic disruption
- Providing consumers with business histories allowing them to make informed decisions
- Protecting disaster-affected consumers from unscrupulous business practices