Fire in the earth: Technology, resources and the environment
Since the beginnings of US agriculture, an urgent and on-going need for food meant that the environmental consequences of food production were less important than human need. This chapter deals with a key input for agricultural production, and each is presented in terms of the major issue or controversy surrounding its use. These issues include: Soil erosion and other soil problems, water use and availability, agricultural land preservation, energy use and availability, use of farm chemicals, and genetic conservation and monocultural production. A number of policies and programs affect soil conservation at the federal, state and local levels. Land use regulation is primarily a state and local matter, and it is at those levels that most governmental attempts have been made to curb farmland loss, although the federal government has become involved to some extent. An agricultural districting and preferential assessment program could be combined with mandatory farm-use zoning.