Two more senators have signed on as co-sponsors of proposed federal legislation that would make security measures at agricultural facilities eligible for tax credits.

“SB2052 has been generating additional support in the last three or four weeks,” reported John Chwat, director of government releations for the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Irving, Texas, about “The Agricultural Business Security Tax Credit Act of 2005,” which has been endorsed by the NBFAA.

At press time, Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Rick Santorum, R-Pa., were two new co-sponsors of the bill, which recently was introduced by Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

“This is really a marketing opportunity for the industry,” Chwat pointed out, adding that not only would agricultural manufacturers and distributors of agricultural pesticides or fertilizers be eligible for the credit, but also formulators, aerial applicators and retailers, who sell directly to farmers and ranchers.

Michael Meridith, president of Security Equipment Inc., Omaha, Neb., thinks the proposed law would help his community. “I can just tell you from a marketing standpoint it would give us another ace up our sleeve,” he remarked. “Anything along those lines definitely helps us.”

Under this proposal, eligible agricultural businesses would be able to partially offset significant security costs with a tax credit equivalent to 30 percent of the aggregate amount paid on implementing security measures at covered sites, up to $100,000 per facility, for expenditures including:

  • employee security training and background checks;

  • limitation and prevention of access to controls of specified agricultural chemicals;

  • protection of perimeters including lights, cameras and intrusion detection sensors; and

  • computer network security.

According to press announcements from Sens. Roberts and Nelson, this legislation will help to protect the nation from terrorists and other illegal activity by improving security at sites where agricultural chemicals are stored.

The counterpart in the House of Representatives to SB2052 is HR713, which has similar provisions, Chwat asserted. It is sponsored by Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Ky., who is on the House Ways and Means Committee, and has 26 co-sponsors in the House.

Concern has been mounting in Congress about unaddressed security measures at many chemical plants, which have been said to contain “sitting weapons of mass destruction.” Chwat observed that agricultural fertilizers have been used to make bombs, such as the one that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City, and methamphetamine, an addictive drug.

Meridith pointed out that the tax credits could be used to improve CCTV, access control and electronic burglar alarm systems. He thinks the amount of the credit, $100,000, would be enough to make significant security improvements in a facility.

“With terrorism and drugs, you do need to worry about who you hired, and you have to have some sort of tracking record,” he said of point-of-sale security systems. “People are having to wake up really fast and realize that the security measures they have in place are unacceptable, and do something.

“Even in a farming community or a small town where you thought everybody was your buddy, leaving doors unlocked is a thing of the past,” he declared.

Because Sen. Roberts, one of the bill’s sponsors, is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chwat has high hopes for the bill.

“This is the kind of bill that is very targeted – it’s a good anti-terrorism-type bill,” Chwat observed, adding that Sen. Roberts is a senior, respected senator. “It could move; it could have some legs to it, and the same thing in the House. So we are not only supportive, but networking with the staffs.”