(July 8) A classified war game at the National Defense University, Washington, D.C., in late June involved a fictional bioterrorism plot against U.S. agriculture — but it didn’t involve the fruit and vegetable sector.

Dubbed “Silent Prairie,” the game involved senior military officers, 11 members of Congress and a number of executive branch officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., was among those who participated. A cattle rancher, he is chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees agriculture research on animal and plant diseases. He also was a key figure in crafting legislation to address concerns about the nation’s food supply in light of Sept. 11.

“We must be prepared for all potential scenarios, including not only our immediate emergency response to them but also the economic consequences, so that we can better protect our food supply,” Lucas said.

Details of the war game and the recommendations coming from it must remain confidential, although Lucas said it involved a massive bioterrorism incident, a large-scale deployment of troops in response and other contingencies.