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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.


The UC is California’s land grant institution; its Cooperative Extension service celebrates its centennial this year of applied research that has helped California agriculture become the giant it is among global markets.

Agritourism has been talked up in the past. Some are doing it on a small scale. There are wine trails and other marketing efforts to attract tourists to smaller agricultural venues where you can pick your own apples or sample limited-production wines. Bloggers offer virtual tours of their farming operations in California and throughout the United States.

Both are great ideas that could be leveraged to help California’s $100 billion agricultural economy through some challenging times, in spite of what some can rightfully point to as robust times.

Let’s look at these two ideas as one that could move commercial agricultural production into a spotlight that needs to be focused on in the state that produces the lion’s share of America’s food. Why, for instance, does American agricultural policy seem so Midwest-focused when even former governors-turned-USDA Secretary will admit that the bulk of America’s food supply is California grown?

For all that California has going for it – its Mediterranean climate and surface water delivery systems – there are challenges related to both. There are certainly other challenges to be addressed.

Why not embrace the opportunity of Secretary Ross’ efforts to promote agritourism for the opportunity it is to educate consumers about all facets of their food supply? That’s why I’m an Ag journalist today: I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I’m fascinated by all that goes into it.

Let’s also engage with Napolitano in the discussions related to her comprehensive food initiative and build a groundswell of support to meet the challenges that California agriculture faces in the 21st Century?

Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette or reach me at

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