Ever since anti-government terrorist Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people by blowing up an Oklahoma City federal government building with 40 bags of ammonium nitrate — a farm fertilizer than can also be an explosive — authorities everywhere have been on high alert for unusual purchases of large quantities of fertilizer.

Earlier this month, with G8 and G20 summits right around the corner, fears of another terrorism plot surfaced when a farm supply store in southern Ontario told police of a suspicious purchase.  After an investigation, the fertilizer purchase turned out to be legitimate. But although the scare was a false alarm, it was a red flag for the farming community. It underlined how extremely vulnerable farming is to terrorism, not just in wide open spaces such as pastures and fields, but in the very stores where farmers (and non-farmers) buy supplies.

I write about the agricultural community’s $100-million plea for help in response to this bomb scare and others, in today’s Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury.

The photo below is from the Oklahoma City national memorial and museum, which includes 168 chairs in nine rows, to represent each floor of the building that was destroyed by the blast. Each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children killed.