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Agriculture: Our Biggest Environmental Disaster
By: Michael Dappert
There are no "good old days" of farming. From when people first started to herd animals and scratch the ground to plant seeds,
farming has been an environmentally destructive force. We have heard a lot in recent years about the destruction of the rainforest
in South America and the Red Woods in California. Every state has some form of agriculture. Every ecosystem in the United States
has been impacted by agricultural activities. The rainforest and the Redwoods are more glamorous than the Prairie Lands of Illinois
In decades past, organic farming or sustainable agriculture were discredited among farmers as being a movement to return to 18th
century farming practices. Chemical and fertilizer companies used these images to impress farmers that if you wanted to use any
alternative to "modern" farming practices you would probably be spending a lot of time looking at the wrong end of a horse. But,
18th or 19th or even early 20th century farming practices were just as destructive as today's practices.
So, how are we supposed to feed ourselves? We do it through agriculture. Anyone who thinks I am suggesting we quit farming and
go back to hunting and gathering is jumping to conclusions. The problem with agriculture has always been the way it has been done.
From slash and burn to no-till industrial chemical agriculture, through centuries of human attempts at raising a crop, the impact on
the surrounding area was of little consideration.
In the 1970's American farmers were encouraged to take out all their fence rows and plant every available inch to maximize their
profits. This attitude was fostered to not really benefit farmers but rather to benefit companies that farmers sell their products to. So
what, if you gained ten acres more on a thousand acre f