You are here

Paying the Farm Bill

U.S. Agricultural Policy and the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture

This report demonstrated that resource conserving agricultural systems are environmentally and economically superior to conventional systems over the long term.

Executive Summary

In theory, U.S. agriculture is a business enterprise like any other, so any decline of capital assets should figure in income calculations. In practice, however, farmers depreciate man-made assets such as tractors or silos, but make no allowance for the declining value of natural assets such as soil and water. To the extent that U.S. farmers are "living off their capital" by allowing soils to erode and water to be contaminated, their income is overstated today - and at risk tomorrow. This report demonstrated that resource conserving agricultural systems are environmentally and economically superior to conventional systems over the long term. Through case studies of a ronage of farming strategies on two very different terrains - Nebraska and Pennsylvania - the authors document how U.S. farm policy distorts economic realities and inhibits the use of resource-conserving agricultural practices by making them appear less profitable.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletters

Get the latest commentary, upcoming events, publications, maps and data. Sign up for the biweekly WRI Digest.