As farmers try to accept and include new technology into their agendas, new terminology comes with it. Maybe they will incorporate some of both, and maybe they won’t.
Conversations between members of the Cooperative Extension Service and farmers in the field are sometimes interrupted because of terms of speech. University farm advisors extend information often derived from research at their home universities, but farmers “get it” best if the research results can be stated in down-home “every day” language.
In another regard the University of California may face a new challenge as it communicates with the farmers in the state who operate the nation’s most prolific and most extensive farm economy. The two need to communicate, and they have traditionally, but interference lurks.
For example, the university has recently pledged itself anew to the concept that climate change is the result of human activity. Its farmer-constituents might not be ready to accept that premise, especially if some of their day-to-day farm chores are identified as causes of the change.
Farmers might begin to wonder if the advice and instructions they receive are strictly for their benefit, or perhaps for the benefit of the cause celebre among environmentalists who have often been critical of farm practices. A strong communication link between two entities is maintained best when they trust and fully understand each other.
A crossover of the language of technology is seen in a report from the agriculturally grounded Western Growers. The organization has launched a new technology-based risk management program that allows food producers to assess their compliance with safe production practices minute by minute.
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But further explanation of the system runs the risk of language overkill, always a detriment to clear understanding. For example, announcement of the system informs that it allows producers to easily review and “track food safety data that facilitate ongoing improvements in food safety practices throughout the supply chain.” Even quotation marks don’t help clarify just what this advantage of the new system means.
The system’s further advantages seem equally obscure when described. For example, its feature of traceability promises to provide instantaneous case and item level traceability technology across the entire supply chain using cloud and block chain technology.
Financial protection is also promised by the system. A brief analysis of that advantage talks about an alliance that provides a software system offering indemnification in case of a contamination event. Western Growers has partnered with an organization called IFoodDecision Sciences to deliver the unique software system which allows producers of food products the ability to assess and track all food safety systems and processes in real time and provide actionable information on needed improvements.
The notice also talks about “block chain enabled technology that will provide readily available traceback and trace forward capability which can quickly narrow and identify the specific products that are and are not involved in a food safety event.” Further it promises anonymized data intended to inform, improve and protect the entire industry and advance supply chain reliability, transparency and responsiveness.
Now that is a mouthful, maybe several mouthfuls. It seems to be a wedding of sorts between agricultural producers and their tech-savvy associates that provides a wide, but somewhat technologically cluttered path to the future,
Even if the description of the process offers more gobbledygook than the instructions for your latest tech toy, it promises delivery of pure and wholesome food products to millions. And it provides protection for producers who may have been sabotaged by a stray gopher littering their mustard greens. It’s a notable technological step forward -- as long as words don’t get in the way.