Rural America is struggling. Family agriculture is fading, and prime farmland is often converted into environmentally harmful applications. But food cultivation has ecological consequences, too. Farms consume 80 percent of the nation's water. Although they often prevent sprawling development, improve water quality, or provide wildlife habitat, they also pollute rivers, drain wetlands, or emit greenhouse gasses.
Don Stuart thinks two dangerous trends--the loss of farms and damage to ecosystems--are linked, and a major cause is political deadlock between farmers and activists. He offers a radical proposal: collaboration. To promote empathy and point out the costs of continued political impasse, he presents opposing views. Topics include incentives, regulations, environmental markets, growth management, climate change, and more. Drawing from a lifetime spent settling conflicts, he identifies features of successful community programs to suggest a model for a prosperous, healthy future.