In these days of turmoil and anxiety over possible terrorism, we need to back off a little and get things into a rational perspective.

First, most of our farm input tools are not suitable weapons for terrorism. Second, those of us who make them, store them, sell them, transport them and use them are responsible, patriotic citizens.

Yet, the poorly informed public could view us and our products with fear. We must take more time to speak out — beginning with our neighbors. We are used to handling our products safely and responsibly in the course of everyday actions.

Others, particularly urbanites, see us only through the eyes of a sensationalist media. It is highly unlikely that someone would steal or highjack an airplane from an aerial applicator and try to load it with parathion or something and spray down a nearby town. In the first place, even if it did occur, the damage would be minuscule and certainly not instantaneous.

Our products and aerial applicators are simply not suitable tools for effective terrorism. That does not mean, however, that we should be less vigilant. One never knows what some unknown nut might try.

We do have some products that do bear watching — ammonium nitrate in particular. TFI and others have alerted all to watch and secure stockpiles of this material.

We should keep careful watch over our supplies of tractor fuel. Diesel and kerosene mixed with ammonium nitrate can be highly unstable and dangerous.

Our most toxic pesticides must be guarded — not because they can be sprayed, but because they could be used to a limited degree to affect concentrated water supplies.

We each have a responsibility to know to whom we are selling all of our products. We are already working on a system to tighten our knowledge of internet purchasers. We need to keep close count on our inventory in the warehouses, on the truck, and at the farm.

We must know what is there and especially what, if anything, is missing. We must question strangers and require information from new unknown purchasers.

All of us in agribusiness — farmers, dealers, distributors, transportation, professional applicators and formulators/manufacturers each have a part to play. Vigilance on our part is the key to safety and security of our products and our role in contributing to the overall security of our society.

Be alert!