Resource and Environmental Effects of U.S. Agriculture

Resource and Environmental Effects of U.S. Agriculture

Resource and Environmental Effects of U.S. Agriculture

Resource and Environmental Effects of U.S. Agriculture

Excerpt

This report is the culmination of several years of research undertaken at Resources for the Future. The study originated out of concern that prospective long-term trends in demand for U.S. agricultural production, in prices of energy and other key inputs, and in agricultural technologies would put increasing pressure on the nation's land and water resources and on the environment. It appeared to us that these trends could shift the agricultural situation of the United States from one of chronic surplus to one of recurring if not chronic scarcity. Should such a shift occur, the nation likely will require major modification of the policies for resource and environmental management in agriculture which have evolved since the 1930s.

The study is addressed to analysis of the trends which over the next several decades will determine the amount of pressure on the nation's land and water resources, to evaluation of the resulting environmental impacts, and dicussion of policy alternatives for dealing with them, With the exception of interviews conducted as part of our research on tillage and pest management technologies, irrigation and 208 planning, we have not developed new sources of data. Rather we have relied on systematic surveys of data and other information already available elsewhere. Nor have we developed formal models of the various relationships studied. We did, however, make use of Iowa State University's model of U.S. agriculture to project erosion and of a model developed at RFF for another purpose to transform projections of erosion to projections of sediment delivered. With these exceptions, the analysis is not cast in a formal modeling mode. This would not have been appropriate, in our judgment, given the broad focus of the research and its intent to identify and assess new patterns of resource use and technology likely to emerge over several decades.

The research was partially funded by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Laboratory . . .

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