The Western View: Could farmers be the heroes of the 21st century?

Dan Western View


Recently, the United Nations sounded an alarm that worldwide, agricultural land is disappearing for many reasons, and populations are continuing to grow.  The report said this shrinkage of farmland coupled with climate change point to a looming disaster.

For all its doom and gloom, the report also offered hope, laying out ways to address the looming crisis. The report proposes increasing the productivity of land, wasting less food and shifting diets away from meat.  It says we need a major re-evaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide.

We want the California Legislature and Governor to hear that message.  Our farmers – the most productive in the world – could save the earth.  They bring more food per gallon of water than anyone else in the world, and it is good, nutritious, safe food we can all enjoy.  They have developed, and continue to develop, new ways to farm that further reduce inputs while increasing production. Our farms are an asset the world needs now, unlike any other time in history.

Our farmers can also help solve the climate change crisis.  The act of growing food is best done by increasing the organic content of the soil, and that is exactly what is needed to reduce climate change.  Using Cap and Trade to quantify how much carbon is being stored by farming, we can insure that these changes happen.  Efforts like planting cover crops, no-till cultivation, and rotational grazing would keep the carbon in the ground instead of releasing it into the air.

We could do all these things.  As incredible as it may seem, our farmers have this power.  Our growers have the ability to solve the major threats of our time – but they need help.  We need our water supply. To make sure we have that, We need our state’s leaders to shift their emphasis from saving a fish to saving the world.

Could farmers be the heroes of the 21st century?

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West and Citrus Industry Magazine.  Visit us on the web at

About the Author

Len Wilcox

Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.