It appears that agriculture is finally embracing the fact that if the industry doesn’t take measures to toot its own horn and enlighten the public about the benefits found in safe and plentiful food and fiber — then very few others will.

In fact, documentaries like “Food, Inc.” and books such as “Fast Food Nation” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” coupled with the constant attacks and lawsuits from powerful environmental extremists — which may or may not be motivated by the best of intentions — are actually crippling the ability of farmers to produce the food, fiber and the plants that we all depend on.

So it is both refreshing and encouraging to see agricultural commodity groups, farmers, dairymen and ranchers all across California — and across the nation for that matter — coalesce around the common cause of setting the record straight as to just what it is that they actually do. Since the emergence of the almighty Internet appears to be the modern-day delivery mechanism utilized by green groups, it makes sense to venture into this arena to level the playing field.

Evidence abounds that agriculture has “seen the light” by entering the fray to set up Web sites, establish accounts on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and create blogs to become a power player in the daily rapid-fire exchange of ideas, viewpoints, crusades and controversies available in the modern public forum know as “Social Networking.” The Western Plant Health Association — www.healthyplants.org — along with other trade associations such as CropLife America and the California Farm Bureau Federation, represents just a few of the farming associations that have produced educational videos for the Web to enlighten the general public about the true benefits of the agriculture industry.

This brings me to the focus of this month’s article. You are encouraged to explore www.knowacaliforniafarmer.com, a valuable ag Web site that came online on Sept. 1. Without doubt, this site is like no other when it comes to spreading the message about who is growing our food and the shaky and tenuous times that California farmers and ranchers are currently facing.
With fewer than 2 percent of all Americans engaged in farming today, consumers have become increasingly isolated from the source of their food supply. Adding to this growing detachment is the fact that the public is only hearing one side of the story — and it’s not from the farming side. Furthermore, few people understand the reality that farmers are overburdened with regulatory schemes laid out by politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. that only make matters more difficult.