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Agriculture has opportunity to shape important debates


Table of Contents:

  • UC system has vital role to play in helping shaping agricultural policy.
  • California's Mediterranean climate must be leveraged to our advantage.
  • There are ways to help consumers better understand how agriculture is woven throughout our cultural fabric.


Could there be a positive shift in how people view agriculture in this country, and particularly in California, where food availability and the concerns of commercial growers are generally non-issues because grocery stores continue to be well-stocked?

Questions from readers related to my story on the projected record almond crop were certainly natural: “how can they predict a record crop like this during a drought?” That question is answered in the story.

A couple of seemingly unrelated stories popped up recently that features some well-placed people who could help the overall cause of promoting agriculture. Not necessarily as a PR agency would, but in a larger, more philosophical sense that births a mindset and eventually public policy that supports American agriculture in ways that are truly helpful.

California Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross likes to talk about the “foodie” craze and how people seem more socially attached to their food. The premise behind her arguments as I understand them is that these same people are also interested in where their food comes from.

Secretary Ross does seem to get it, and to further that connection between the food’s source and its presentation on our plates, she is working on promoting agritourism through a partnership with the California Grown program.

In a separate story, but arguably related in a big-picture sense, University of California President Janet Napolitano recently pitched her idea to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s board for a comprehensive food initiative.

Napolitano apparently wants to put the weight of the UC system’s research prowess behind a plan to help solve some challenging issues related to global food production. If ever there was a university system poised to lead such a robust idea it would be the University of California.

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