Paying the Farm Bill: How One Statute Has Radically Degraded the Natural Environment and How a Newfound Emphasis on Sustainability is the Key to Reviving the Ecosystem
The Environmental Forum (Environmental Law Institute), Vol. 27, No. 4, July/August 2010
21 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2010 Last revised: 17 Feb 2013
Date Written: July 1, 2010
This article follows up on the author's previous publications related to a holistic analysis of the United States Farm Bill by highlighting the grave societal and environmental implications of buttressing our nation's industrial agricultural system with ever-larger commodity subsidies. Specifically, this article first provides a brief history of both American agriculture and the Farm Bill as context for the vast structural shift that has occurred in our nation's farming and food systems over the past century. Next, the article examines the severe environmental consequences of a subsidized industrial agricultural system, including impacts to water, soil, land, biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emissions. The article concludes by re-centering the discussion on Farm Bill reform by proposing an innovative policy solution that can solve many of the environmental problems identified in the preceding chapter. This article appears as the cover article in the Environmental Law Institute's Environmental Forum (Summer Reading Issue – July/August 2010).
Keywords: Farm Bill, environmental degradation, industrial agriculture, megafarm, water, soil, wildlife impacts, erosion, sedimentation, pollution, sustainable agriculture, organic farming, climate change mitigation
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