December 28, Prairie Star (MN) - Extension offers plant biosecurity online course.

Farmers and ranchers who want to learn more about plant biosecurity can take a free Extension course via the Internet.

The course was initially created and designed for Extension staff called on to provide information and advice when plant biosecurity events occur.

Developers of the course -- the Extension Disaster Education Network, or EDEN -- have now made the coursework available to anyone.

EDEN is a multi-state effort by Extension Services across the country to improve the delivery of services to citizens affected by disasters.

Each participating state appoints one or more EDEN delegates.

The course provides information on intentional and unintentional plant biosecurity attacks as well as the natural spread of plant diseases.

"A major attack or natural biosecurity outbreak on American farms could cost the economy billions in economic damages, and the financial damage could increase if a biosecurity outbreak is mismanaged or not detected in a timely fashion," said John Shutske, University of Minnesota Extension agricultural safety and health specialist and Minnesota's representative to EDEN.