Where were you during the great Amazon web server meltdown? I recall being at work on a particularly sunny Tuesday afternoon trying to come up with an idea for this column, actually. I spent more time than usual writing that day due to the online massive glitch, which mostly affected media outlets like the one I work for. But it also disrupted and delayed other ancillary services provided by the retail distribution giant.
Can’t quite recall this online-based calamity? I don’t blame you. But, in addition to my Managing Editor duties to print, my obligations to GrowingProduce.com were put on hold for several hours that day. The outage meant I could not post and/or publish any articles to the site. It felt like I was transported back in time before the days of instant news and social media domination. In my world, the incident was just a hiccup. But, what if it would have lasted two days, weeks, a month? Given the horsepower Amazon has, that’s never likely to happen. However, it does show how reliant we are on modern technology to communicate, work, and live. It also reflects how vulnerable we are, too.
Without a doubt, you all have plans in place to cope with disaster, whether they are brought on by Mother Nature, pestilence, the economy, or even terrorists.
It’s true. Unfortunately, agroterrorism is an ever-present threat that might get lost in the grand scheme of our daily dealings.
According to a UF/IFAS EDIS paper analyzing agroterrorism in the U.S., the term is defined as the deliberate introduction of detrimental agents, biological and otherwise, into the agricultural and food processing system with the intent of causing actual or perceived harm.
The Amazon anomaly made me ponder how our food supply is at risk more than we probably think. In scanning over the EDIS document, which was originally published in 2005 and updated in 2015, one passage stood out to me: “Mitigation is one means of dealing with an actual or threatened agroterrorism event.”
In other words, planning and preparation — for anything — is the main tool anyone needs to succeed. This should not come as a surprise. It has nothing to do with modern tech gadgets, but more with how you use them, and how you can get by even without them. This comes with experience, education, and an ingrained drive to adapt and thrive. Sounds like a farmer to me, through and through.
What Would You Do?
So, just for kicks and giggles, if the grid went down, how confident are you in your ability to ride it out? Could you keep your farm operating at high levels without today’s hort-tech tools?
A service interruption in communication is one thing that can lead to inconvenience; an upheaval in the food supply chain is a whole other ball game. From growers, to researchers, to industry suppliers, and all others along the line, your jobs are critically important to sustaining food security. Don’t forget that. Own it, and be proud.
In times of adversity, using your head first will lead to a win. The rest will follow naturally.