The new Web site has been two years in the making; a direct response to the passage of California’s Prop. 2, the initiative sponsored by the Humane Society aimed at prohibiting the confinement of certain farm animals.

This was the beginning of the California Agricultural Communications Coalition (CACC), a collection of California commodity groups and various agricultural associations of which WPHA is a member. However, the driving force behind www.knowacaliforniafarmer.com is California’s family farmers, ranchers, fruit and vegetable producers, rice growers, poultry farmers, dairymen and nut producers.

Through videos, photos and blogs that they post on their own, participants can engage consumers in real-time dialogue about the many benefits agriculture provides to our communities and state. CACC and WPHA encourage industry professionals to visit the site, establish an account, read the easy instructions on how to post your contributions, and get involved in educating and sharing your experiences of spending “life in the trenches” in California — the largest agricultural state in the union.

While you’re at it, view WPHA’s most recent videos at www.healthyplants.org, featuring Frank Muller, of Joe Muller and Sons farms and Yolo Vineyards, talking about the benefits of modern-day farming and championing the technology of crop protection tools. And, while visiting www.healthyplants.org, feel free to engage us in discussion about the many agricultural articles we have on our blog site.

USDA report: Agriculture still a business of family farms

While viewing the above-mentioned WPHA video, Frank Muller makes it a point to separate his farming operation in Yolo County from the stereotypic “corporate” agribusiness conglomerates that are the usual focus of criticism from green groups.

Family farms such as Muller’s remain the “norm” in commercial crop production in this country. This fact is driven home by a recent analysis of demographic trends focused on American farms and ranches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report has some salient points listed below:

• Agriculture remains a sector dominated by family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms and ranches are family farms, the report said, and they account for 82 percent of farm production.

• Small farms — defined as those with annual sales of less than $250,000 — make up most of the nation’s farms and hold the bulk of farm assets, including farmland. Most farm production, the report noted, occurs on larger-scale family farms and non-family farms.

• Of the total number of farms in the United States, 88 percent qualify as small farms, the report said.

Those farms hold 63 percent of the nation’s farmland. The full 12-page report may be downloaded from the USDA’s Economic Research Service at www.ers.usda.gov by searching for it by its title, “America’s Diverse Family Farms 2010 Edition.”

This makes it all that more important (since there’s strength in numbers) for California farmers and ranchers to team up and take the time to enlighten the general public, via www.knowacaliforniafarmer.com and other Web sites, about the rewards and hurdles inherent in growing today’s food supply for an ever growing world population.