Schmidt and others said it is important to have added eyes on farm operations through programs like Farm Watch, which is akin to Neighborhood Watch in urban areas.

In the audience, Fresno County private investigator Rick Hustead said his partner in Riverside County has been active in starting a Farm Watch program that keeps an eye of 15,000 acres in the Coachella Valley.

 

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Another observer, Alan Roberts, a consultant with Stanley Convergent Security Solutions Inc. in Nipomo, Calif., said his company sells surveillance cameras. He said wireless systems are gaining increased attention, but they can be costly. He cited a company called Videofied with a monitored video alarm component.

Chapman is among those who continue to investigate the terrorist attack on Harris Farms in Fresno County about two years ago in which some $2 million in damage was caused by the torching of 14 tractor-trailer rigs.

Goldenberg said it is important to instruct farmworkers, “our first responders,” to be on the lookout for foul play and to “make sure they are empowered to say something is wrong.”

He talked of his involvement in coping with outbreaks of Exotic Newcastle Disease in chickens and said that egg producers acted quickly to get a handle on the problem because they kept good records on production and noted decline. He said astute record keeping can be key to spotlighting a problem.

 

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