Agroterrorism summit stresses vigilance

Experts meeting at an agroterrorism summit held recently in Parlier, California, gave farmers and farm workers advice on how to prevent a potential terrorist act.

They suggested keeping a ledger available to record the license numbers of suspicious vehicles or other information about suspicious activity. Heightened situational awareness, they said, is the key to safety, according to

"Your employees are your eyes and ears, and it's okay to question somebody," Ryan Jacobsen, the executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said, reports.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told participants at the summit to take note if people are taking photographs, videotaping, using binoculars or sketching, especially at places such as storage areas.

"We're not talking about people taking pictures of blossoms," Sheriff Mims said, reports. "See if people are doing surveillance or asking probing questions about security. Trust your gut."

Farmers were also told to harden likely targets of theft or terrorism and to identify and mark vulnerable assets. The establishment of controlled access points for delivery vehicles and visitors was recommended.

Tom Knowles, a retired agent with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that authorities needed to know of any large livestock or crop losses that are not related to weather.