Over recent years, the concept of sustainable agriculture as an
alternative to conventional, commercialized agriculture has become a
popular topic among some environmentalists and small sectors of the
agricultural community. Definitions of sustainable agriculture vary, from
the National Research Council's (1989) definition as "food or fiber
production which employs ecological production strategies to reduce inputs
and environmental damage while promoting profitable, efficient, long-term
production," to the University of California at Santa Cruz's Agroecology
Program's definition as "a system which is environmentally sound,
economically viable, socially responsible, non-exploitative, and which
serves as the foundation for future generations" (Allen, 1995).  Both
definitions promote agricultural systems that are responsive to the
environment and human health, as well as reduce inputs, or consumption of
industrialized products such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
	According to William Drake (1993), one way to view the
population-environment dynamic is to visualize relationships between these
sectors as a family of transitions.  This definition of transition
describes a specific period of time which spans the shift from slow to
rapid change in a particular sector (e.g. agriculture) and then usually a
return again to relative stability.  Although a typical agricultural
transition includes a dramatic increase in productivity due to new grain
varieties and heavy application of fertilizers and pesticides, Vernon
Ruttan (1994) suggests that future gains in production will be through
improvements in land productivity.
	Organic agriculture employs farming methods that do not use
industrialized pesticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides.  It
therefore uses fewer inputs and reduces consumption on the production
side.  By definition, organic agriculture therefore appears to be a
reasonable candidate for promoting sustainable agriculture, and a more
sustainable economy.  Since it also typically involves more biointensive
production (as a result of intercropping and integrated pest management),
it typically increases improvements in land productivity.
	It appears that an agricultural transition currently is taking
place in the United States.  This transition consists of an increase in
organic farm acreage as well as an increase in consumer demand for organic
foods.  This paper seeks to chart this sharp rise in organic produce
production and consumption in the United States.  Additionally, it seeks
to identify particular factors affecting this transition, specifically:
increased environmental degradation; increased consumer concerns over
pesticide use; and increased consumer concerns over environmental

Review of Data:  Organics Market
	Although organic food captures only a small share of the total
food market in most industrialized countries-typically 2 percent or
less-substantial growth in this market over the past five years indicates
a more than fleeting interest in organic foods (Gardner, 1996).  In the
past, spurts in organic sales were primarily a result of passing concerns
about food safety (Gardner, 1996; Sachs 1987).  A review of current data
on the organic foods market is significant for showing this substantial
growth, and hence for displaying the move towards an agricultural

Prevalence of Organic Farming
	The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has historically
neglected the organic agriculture industry, as it lacks a formal tracking
system for organic farm production as well as for direct farmer to
consumer sales (Mergentime, 1996).  The USDA has, however, managed to
informally track the increase in organic cropland acreage (see Chart 1.1),
as well as the increase in organic farmers (see Chart 1.2).  

Chart 1.1.  U.S. Organic Cropland.

Chart 1.2. U.S. Organic Farmers

Both of these charts indicate an overwhelming increase in organic farming, as organic cropland acreage more than doubled from 1991 to 1994, and the number of organic farmers increased by 43 percent. It is significant that even with such a large increase in organic cropland acreage as well as in the number of organic farmers, organic agriculture still constitutes only 2 percent of total U.S. agricultural production, according to USDA estimates (Gardener, 1996). Due to the lack of a formal tracking system, however, this data is likely an under-representation of the actual prevalence of organic farming in the U.S.. This data likely does not include hundreds, if not thousands, of small-scale, organic farms throughout the country. Organic Industry Sales Recent evidence points to a sharp increase in organic product sales over the last decade (Mergentime, 1995; Gardner, 1996). For example, organic industry sales have increased more than ten-fold since 1980, representing an exponential increase (Chart 1.3). Produce constitutes more than one-fourth of all organic sales at natural product stores (Chart 1.4), which in 1994 was the equivalent of $333 million. If this growth continues at such an exponential increase, it will result in the capture of a large percentage of the entire food market. Chart 1.3. Organic Industry Sales.

Chart 1.4. Organic Sales by Sector.

Figure 1. Availability of Organic Produce. Map.

According to a survey conducted by The Packer (1996), 54 percent said their supermarket sells organic produce. Additionally, 23 percent of the consumers polled had purchased organic produce within the last six months. This data can also be broken down regionally (Figure 1). It is significant to note that while 62 to 63 percent of respondents in the Western and North Eastern regions report availability of organic produce, only 45 and 50 percent of respondents in the Southern and North Central regions report such availability. This inequality in distribution may be explained for a number of reasons. The West grows the largest percentage of organic produce in the country, thus accounting for its highly reported availability in this region. There is also a large percentage of organic produce grown in the East. In addition, the East is heavily populated, thus making distribution of organic produce to markets in this region more efficient. Lower percentages of organic cropland in the South and North Central regions may explain the lower levels of availability in these regions. Linkages to Other Transitions Since organic agriculture employs farming methods that do not use petro-chemically derived fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, an expected correlation to an increase in organic farming would be a decrease in overall chemically-derived fertilizer and pesticide use. Although the present level of organic agriculture in the U.S.-about 2 percent of total agricultural production-is not large enough to result in significant changes in such use, transitions towards a decline in fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide use are currently underway. Such transitions may not be directly caused by the rise in organic agriculture, however the transitions are connected. In addition, as organic production continues to increase-perhaps reaching 10 to 20 percent of total agricultural production in the next decade-it will have a significant impact on these transitions. In a broader sense, the organic agricultural transition can also be linked with an epidemiological transition as well as a toxicity transition. Fertilizer, Herbicide and Pesticide Use As evidenced in Chart 1.5. (Brown, 1995 p. 41), fertilizer consumption in the United States has been decreasing since 1980. Chart 1.5. Fertilizer Use in the US: 1950-1990.

Although use was up slightly in 1994, from 18.3 million tons in 1993 to 19.0 million tons in 1994, this level of fertilizer use is still one tenth below that during the early eighties (Brown, 1995). Such a decrease may be caused by various factors, such as an increase in cover and inter-cropping to replenish soil nutrients and a decrease in overall active farmland. As organic produce production continues to increase, this level of fertilizer use is likely to decline even more. According to Zilberman (1991), herbicide use in the U.S. is also on the decrease. This steady decline since 1980 is due partly to a reduction in conventional farmed land and to an increase in herbicide cost. Once again, as organic production and acreage increase, ideally conventional practices and use of chemical herbicides will decrease. Farmers in the U.S. currently use an estimated 700 million pounds of pesticides annually (Pimentel, 1993). The use of pesticides in the U.S. increased dramatically from 1945 to 1973-since 1973, however, this use has significantly declined (see Chart 1.6). Chart 1.6. Pesticides Produced in the US.

This decline is linked with increasing evidence linking detrimental health and environmental effects from pesticide use and exposure; the introduction of more potent materials; and the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) (Zilberman, 1991). In particular, increasing evidence of detrimental health effects and increasing use of IPM are factors which will lead to increased organic production. These factors actually serve to feed the trend toward organic farming practices, which in turn lead to decreases in pesticide use. Epidemiological Transition This project also proposes that the organic produce consumption transition is both influenced and will influence a 'good' epidemiological transition (Drake, 1993). As you can see from diagram 1.1 (taken from Drake, 1995) a 'good' epidemiological transition will have a decline in the infectious disease rate and a corresponding increase in the degenerative disease rate (chronic diseases such as cancer). For a 'good' transition the overall disease rate must also be decreasing. The second diagram (1.2) shows that mortality rates for infants is declining and for those that are older than fifty it is increasing. The importance of these trends- - rise in life expectancy and an increase in degenerative diseases- - is that they change societies focus to behaviors that reduce the risk from chronic diseases (cancer). Diet is an essential tool in combating chronic disease such as cancer. As society becomes more aware of the causes of cancer (pesticides, additives, etc.) the more they will be inclined to look for alternatives such as organics. As society buys more organics the more likely the epidemiological transition will be 'good', meaning an overall decrease in disease rate. Thus there is a reinforcing relationship between the organics and epidemiological transitions. Diagram 1.1. Epidemiological Transition.

Diagram 1.2. Mortality Ratios.

Toxicological Transition The toxicological transition is another transition that has an impact on and is impacted by the organics transition. Diagram 1.3 and 1.4 (from Drake, 1993) are representations of the toxicological transition. Diagram 1.3 shows the relationship between the percentage of the environment polluted and time. Diagram 1.4 is a representation of the number of toxins emitted per unit of production over time. In both cases after an initial increase there is a reduction in the increase until eventually a decline occurs. The assumption in this transition is that eventually the toxins we emit into the environment will cause severe enough pollution problems that we will find ways to reduce emissions. The emission reductions will then reduce the percentage of the environment that is polluted. In the United States the increase in percentage of the environment that is polluted has declined (still increasing but not as sharply). It has been argued above that organics are a good candidate for sustainable agriculture, with reduced toxic emissions (see the pesticide and fertilizer transition shown above). Because of the 'low impact' nature of organics we propose that increasing the use of organic agriculture will lead the United States down the backslope of the toxicological transition (reduce the amount of toxins emitted and the overall pollution levels) Diagram 1.3.

Diagram 1.4.

Review of Data: Consumer Attitudes Since the organic agriculture and pesticide transitions are influenced by consumer attitudes and demand, it is important to relate these transitions with transitions in consumer attitudes. In other words, the transitions will be analyzed as existing within a family of transitions (Drake, 1993). Since consumers generally drive the produce market, their attitudes towards foods, produce, and agricultural methods have the power to affect the agricultural transition in this country. The following, therefore, is a collection of existing data on consumer attitudes toward produce and agriculture. Profile of the Organic Produce Consumer While demand for organics can rise and fall based on waves of media attention, organic produce is steadily making its way into the mainstream (The Packer, 1996). A recent survey conducted by The Packer (1996) measured a number of factors concerning consumer attitudes about organic produce (see Chart 2.1). According to the survey, 24 percent of respondents purchased organic produce because they liked its appearance; 17 percent responded that organic produce looked fresher or riper; 16 percent purchased it because they perceived it to be healthier; and 12 percent purchased organic produce because it was produced without pesticides or fertilizers. Chart 2.1. Reasons Why Consumers Purchased Organic Produce

These results are significant since these factors are by-products of organic production. Namely, (1) organic produce looks riper because it generally is: since organic produce tends to be distributed locally, it can remain in the fields until ripe (as opposed to most conventional produce which is shipped long distances and has to be ripened in the store rather than the field); (2) organic produce tends to be healthier than conventional produce since it does not use pesticides and since it tends to be more nutrient rich; and (3) organics are produced without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. In addition, results from The Packer (1996) survey suggest that consumers are overwhelmingly satisfied with their organic produce purchases. As Figure 2 indicates, in every region in the U.S. but the South, 80 to 85 percent of consumers were extremely or very satisfied with their organic produce purchases. Such satisfaction will clearly lead to more consistent purchasing of organic produce, and hence a more steady, and increasing overall demand for such produce. It is also significant to note that most organic produce sold in the southern region of the U.S. is shipped from other regions, primarily the West. Such shipping and storage may result in produce that is bruised or cosmetically displeasing and that is less ripe or fresh. These factors may contribute to the lower level of satisfaction of organic consumers in the South. Figure 2. Satisfaction with Organic Produce.

Consumer Attitudes Toward Pesticides Public concern over pesticide residues in the environment was first highly publicized after the release of Rachel Carson's popular book Silent Spring in 1962. The emergence of consumer and environmental groups during this time had a direct impact on pesticide use, as they were largely responsible for the ban on the use of DDT in 1972. Since the 1960's, the public's exposure to pesticide issues through the media has greatly increased (Sachs et. al. 1987). Although consumer attitudes towards pesticide residues has waxed and waned, overall their concern has steadily increased (see Chart 2.2). Chart 2.2. Consumer Pesticide Concerns.

Sachs' (1987) comparison of consumer concerns over pesticide use from 1965 - 1984 reveals an increase in consumer concern of the health of farmers, wildlife, and humans from exposure to pesticides or pesticide residue. This concern may be intensifying as the number and accounts of chemicals in the environment increase, as do episodes of specific pesticide problems, such as local water contamination, breast milk contamination, and the banning of certain pesticides. A 1994 study by Buzby and Skees also cites increasing consumer concern over pesticide residues on food. According to this survey, concern over pesticide residues on food ranks among the top three concerns over food safety (see Chart 2.3). Chart 2.3. Top Food-Safety Concerns.

Age and Income The Packer data also revealed some important relationships between age and income with organic consumption. Chart 2.4 indicates that for those that purchased organics in the last six months age was a determining factor. Younger people and middle aged 40-49, are more likely to purchase organics than other age groups. We have speculated that increased education and knowledge in the younger age group and an increased income for those age groups could be the cause (younger age group tends to not have families and more money to spend and 40-49 year olds are probably the wealthiest age group). Chart 2.5 represents both availability and the purchase of organics in the last six months by income level. There are two important trends found in this chart. First as income increases the availability of organics increases linearly. A second trend is that the middle income range shows a significantly decreased purchasing trend. This drop may have occurred because the middle income range may be made up of young families that have little flexibility in their budget for the 'luxury' of organics. Chart 2.4. Purchased Organics in the last 6 months.

Chart 2.5. Purchasing and Availability by Income.

Trends in the data also show relationships between age and the reasons why people buy organics. Charts 2.6 shows that older age groups buy organics because of nutrition. This corresponds to both the epidemiological transition talked about above (increased awareness and concern over degenerative diseases) and data that shows nutrition to be the number one food safety concern (Chart 2.3). Chart 2.6. Consumers Who Purchased Organics Based on Nutrition by Income.

Modeling Behavior One of the goals of this project is to develop a comprehensive model for green consumer behavior, and lay out a conceptual base for future research on green consumer behavior. Specifically we have used Stella modeling and GIS Mapping as representational tools to help better understand the determinants of consumption behavior. As stated above, we have picked organic produce consumption as a behavior that is environmentally and human health 'friendly'. We have argued that organic agriculture is a likely candidate for sustainability in food production and beneficial to environmental and human health. Thus, understanding both the attitudes and profiles of consumers and how they relate to 'organic' behavior is an important tool in advancing sustainable organic agriculture. Conceptual Model To research and understand the factors that affect consumer behavior related to organic food products it is important to conceptualize the decision making process of the individual and model the determinants of behavior. Presently there is little academic literature on environmental consumer behavior, while there has been extensive attention paid to consumer behavior in disciplines such as, psychology, sociology, public health, and business (marketing). To enhance our research in environmental consumption behavior we are attempting to conceptualize and model the determinants of behavior. A model for environmental consumption behavior can be created drawing from the disciplines mentioned above. The ultimate success of programs and regulations that attempt to reduce or change consumption behavior is dependent upon the individuals willingness to undertake and/or maintain the required behaviors. Unfortunately, it is difficult to decrease mis-consumption when the pressures of society call for increased consumption environmentally 'unfriendly' products. The determinants of behavior can be categorized into three areas; predisposition, ability; and need (Becker 1986). Each of these areas includes several sub-components that provide the theoretical and operational definitions of the model. Predisposition includes socio-demographic characteristics, social structure variables (interaction and support), and beliefs. The predisposing variables are not directly responsible for the final consumption behavior but are determinants of variation in inclination towards a behavior (Becker 1986). Ability, the second component of the model, are the conditions that hinder or allow the consumer to take on a behavior. Even though an individual may be predisposed to buy organic products, the individual must have the means and access. The two most important determinants of ability are price and distance from the product. Other sources of ability include individual and family resources, community resources (infrastructure, etc.), and the skills to use them. When appropriate predisposing and ability conditions are present, the individuals perception of need becomes the deciding factor for behavioral change. The individual must perceive a need for the behavior in order to take it. A premise of this model is that the behavior of the individual is a function of the predisposing and enabling characteristics of the individual and the individuals perceived need for the behavior, such as changing to 'green' agricultural products. Knowledge and experience are important determinants of perceived need and efficacy of a behavior. Stella Model Attached to this paper is the Stella map for the model we have created. It was created to simulate a community or region and is designed to take aggregate data as inputs. Not all of the determinants listed above are present in the model but the major factors have been included. The model was also designed to incorporate the trends and relationships shown in The Packer data (discussed above). Predisposition: As you can see from the map Social Interaction, Socio-Demographic, and Beliefs are present as predisposition determinants. Social Interaction is calculated by inputting values for an areas social networks and support. Sliding scale input tools in the model ranging on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, for both networking and support have been provided. We have assumed that the greater the networking and support the more likely the community will take on progressive behaviors such as organic produce consumption. Socio-Demographic stock is determined from factors such as age, income, and education. These demographics can also be inputted using the sliders. A graphing interaction to approximate the relationships that we found in the Packer data to the converter's for age and income has been used. There was no data for education levels in the data but we have assumed that with greater income is greater education. Chart's 2.4 and 2.5 show the relationship of both age and income respectively to purchasing organic produce in the last six months. The graphs used in Stella follow this trend with middle class and middle aged communities having a lower tendency to buy organic produce than the other groups. Beliefs are determined from concerns about health and the environment and the experience and knowledge of the community (part of the perception of need section of the model). Again, sliding scales to allow variable inputs ranging between 1 and 5 have been used. By giving a value to these determinants it is possible to quantify predisposition. Ability is calculated from measurements of the average distance to the product in the community in question and the price difference from organic to conventional agricultural products. It is assumed that the less the distance the greater the probability of taking on the behavior. It was also assumed that the less the price difference the more likely the 'organic' behavior will occur. Perceived Need: Perceived need is determined in the model by quantifying experience and knowledge about organic production, health effects, and environmental effects related to agriculture. Again all of the perceived need variables are on a sliding 1 to 5 scale and can be inputted into the simulation. It was assumed that the greater the knowledge and experience the community has with organic agriculture production, health and environmental benefits the greater the likelihood that the community will take on the 'organic' behavior. Beliefs (which in this model represents both predisposition and perceived need) and ability interact and lead to behavior. This behavior in turn creates an outcome (either reduced or no change in adverse health and environmental impacts. The impacts are then reintroduced to the model as experience and knowledge creating a feedback loop that allows the community to reinforce its 'organic' behavior. Strategies/Policies for Change Traditionally social programs have centered around two areas, information dissemination or transfer to a targeted group and economic policies. The information programs target the experience and knowledge sector of our model. The theory follows that if you can increase the knowledge of the group they will be more inclined to take on the wanted behavior. The economic policies target the ability sector of the model with the goal of increasing the capability of the consumers to take on the behavior, either by decreasing the cost of the product, increasing the resources of the consumer or making the product available. The model has been designed to allow variations in these sectors to enable the simulator to make a series of runs with changes in the variables. The expected outcomes of the model are that knowledge programs will have a reduced effect on lower income, less educated communities as compared to wealthier, more highly educated communities. Conversely it is expected that ability programs will have a greater impact in lower income, less educated communities than those programs would have in wealthier areas. Outcomes Attached to this paper is are the graphical results of model runs. Stella graph 1 are representations of the model run at the extremes. Graph 1 is a comparative graph for the behavior and environmental outcomes. As you can see the 'worst' case scenario has an increase in organic behavior that is much less than the 'best' case scenario. This is also true for environmental and health outcomes. The 'worst' case has a rise that is much less than the 'best' case. Stella graphs 2 and 5 show the relationship between income, education, and age on organic behavior. These results are not as easily deciphered but a trend follows that contradicts that predicted above (that knowledge strategies work better in wealthier communities and ability programs work better in lower income communities). Graph 2 is represents lower sociodemographic communities with changes in experience and knowledge. Line 1 is 'lower income' with little knowledge and line 2 is 'lower income' with knowledge. Adding knowledge shows a marked increase in behavior change (not exactly what was predicted; that there would be little effect from knowledge for lower income communities). Graph 3 shows the relationship between experience and knowledge with 'wealthier' communities. Line 1 shows the relationship with little experience and knowledge and line 2 is with increased experience and knowledge. The results show that there is little impact from experience and knowledge increases for wealthier communities (again contradicting the predicted outcomes). Graphs 4 and 5 show the relationships between ability and the sociodemographic sector and follow the outcomes predicted above. Graph 4 represents 'lower income' communities. As ability increases the corresponding increase in organic behavior is apparent. Graph 5, 'wealthier' communities, also has an increase in organic behavior with increased ability but it is not as drastic as the shift for 'lower income' communities. Implications of Transitions Consumer Attitudes and USDA Labeling Requirements Although this recent trend toward organic produce still constitutes only a small segment of the U.S. agricultural industry, it is significant for a number of reasons. Primarily this trend displays a change in consumer attitudes towards organics-a change which does not appear fleeting. This growing awareness of food safety will undoubtedly lead to USDA standards for organic produce (currently under development) as well as standards for pesticide residue labeling on conventional produce (Frazao, 1992). Such federal regulations would establish a standard allowing consumers to judge between organic and non-organic produce, to make assumptions about the benefits and drawbacks of each, and choose between the two types of produce. And with increasing publicity about the environmental and human health effects of pesticide use, it is likely that these consumers will choose organic if within a reasonable price. It appears, therefore, that USDA standards and labeling for produce are likely to have an even greater effect on the rise of organic produce production and consumption. Environmental Effects Although organic farm acreage is currently relatively small in the U.S. compared to total agriculture acreage, it still serves to reduce environmental degradation. As of 1994, well over one million acres of land were being used for organic agriculture, while conventional farm acreage decreased. Since the Environmental Protection Agency considers conventional agriculture the largest non-point source of water pollution in the country (Lustgarden, 1994), the transition toward organic agriculture is a welcomed one, even if seemingly small. Farming without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers can significantly reduce pesticide run-off and water pollution, the result being safer water for humans and wildlife. Additionally, it can result in decreased environmental and public health costs, which, according to Pimentel (1993), total about $8 billion every year in the U.S.. As previously stated, the organic produce transition has the potential to effect the overall toxicity transition. Decline and Resurgence of the Family Farm The family farm as an institution has been continuously eroding since the late 1970's. A transformation in American agriculture from small-scale, broad-cropped based farming to large-scale, industrial and monocultural farming occurred from the 1940's up until the 1970's (Strange, 1988). The reasons for this are many, but most are based on the theory that "bigger is better." This idea has been reflected in U.S. agricultural policy since the 1940's. Such policies have encouraged large-scale, monocultural farming practices through programs such as commodity price and income support subsidies, tax credits, research programs, and pesticide subsidies (National Research Council, 1989). Under these policies, farmers faced economic penalties for maintaining small scale, broad-based farms, and were therefore nearly forced to either get out of business or change to large-scale, commercialized production practices. An increase in organic farming correlates with an increase in small family farms. For organic production practices favor small farms that grow a variety of crops. The 1996 Farm Bill also provides farmers with greater planting flexibility, allowing them to plant a variety of crops, and using organic practices if desired (Hosansky, 1996). Hopefully this policy with result in further conversions to organic and small-scale methods. Policy Recommendations Under traditional agricultural policy in the U.S., farmers are not rewarded for practicing sustainable farming methods. In fact, agricultural policies serve to deter the emergence of such methods. Although the 1996 Farm Bill may serve to promote crop diversification, and hence alternative methods such as organic farming, the policy still does not reward those farmers who have been practicing sustainable methods for years. The U.S. government needs to re-evaluate its agricultural support system, so that equal rewards and incentives are provided for farmers managing large as well as small tracts of land. The following are recommendations intended to guide agricultural policy makes toward promoting alternative agricultural practices such as organic farming, and hence promote agricultural sustainability. The policies are not intended to be comprehensive in scope, but rather address a few key areas where current policy is lacking. USDA Management Information System As mentioned, the USDA has historically neglected the organic agriculture industry, and currently lacks a formal tracking system for organic farm production and sales. State and national agencies therefore typically do not consider such small-scale and organic farms when agricultural policies are established. Given increasing public awareness and concern over health issues, and in turn an increasing rise in the organic industry, it is time for the USDA to acknowledge this rise and get updated on these transitions. For starters, the USDA must implement a management information system (MIS) that will gather information on organic production and distribution. Information such as average farm size; specific production practices such as inter-cropping and folier feeding techniques; and distribution methods could be collected through surveys distributed through regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWG). Presently, SAWG networks are present in a number of regions in the country, and are typically in contact with most small-scale, family, and organic farms in their region. Such data could be used by the USDA as well as other sustainable agriculture organizations to more accurately represent current agricultural and consumption trends over time, which could then be compared with other trends and considered when state and national agricultural policies are established. Institute Government Policy-Led Sustainable Agriculture Programs As suggested by Buttel (1993), government policy led-sustainable agriculture is an approach to sustainability that seeks to implement public policies that give producers strong incentives to achieve sound environmental performance. Research in this area would consist of an assessment of the social and ecological costs and benefits of various approaches to sustainable agriculture. One example would be applying polluter-costs for environmental damage, such as water quality. Such a policy might be similar to existing environmental policies which require industries to pay polluter-costs for environmental degradation such as decreased air or water quality. Another example would be applying taxes (as opposed to subsidies) for extensive use of chemical pesticides. Research by Zilberman (1991) suggests that pesticide taxes would encourage farmers to become more selective in their chemical choices and switch to other options that would be more cost-effective. A final example would be implementing subsidy programs which reward farmers for implementing organic and/or sustainable agriculture production methods. The implementation of such subsidy programs, however, would need to be based on specific data on such production methods, which currently the USDA lacks. Such programs would therefore need to be established with the aid of sustainable agricultural organizations across the country, such as the network of Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and American Farmland Trust. Protect Small-Scale and Family Farms As mentioned, one consequence of traditional U.S. agricultural policy as been the decline of small-scale and family operated farms. Such policies have encouraged large-scale, monocultural farming practices and imposed economic penalties for maintaining small scale, broad-based farms. The 1996 Farm Bill does include farmland conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provide financial, technical, and educational support for farms practicing conservation methods. Historically, many small farms have participated in these voluntary programs, and have even come to depend on annual financial support for their participation in these programs (Thorpe, 1996). Proposed rules under EQIP-which are currently undergoing a public comment period-include provisions such as the establishment of "conservation priority areas" which would prioritize large tracts of lands for receiving EQIP support, and essentially make small farms ineligible for receiving EQIP funds. Sustainable agriculture and rural conservation organizations across the country are concerned over such proposed rules, and are currently taking efforts so that such rules will not be adopted in the final EQIP guidelines. Such proposed rules clearly reflect that the USDA does not recognize the importance of maintaining small-scale farms for environmental, economic, or social reasons. Once again, if the agency collected and tracked information on such small-scale farms and their practices, it would be better equipped for implementing more accurate and progressive agricultural policies. Develop Bioregional Communities to Localize Food Consumption Moving toward more localized food distribution may be a way to further promote more equal distribution of food in the United States. Additionally, it can provide farmers with greater financial and social stability. Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are one way of localizing food consumption. CSA's are a form of mutual cooperation between farmers and consumers who come together in order to produce healthy food in a sustainable way (Donahue, 1994). In a typical CSA, community members purchase a share in the farm's operations at the start of each growing season. CSA members provide capital for the agricultural season, and receive fresh produce (produced locally) on a weekly basis. In addition to providing community members with fresh produce, the CSA strengthens the farm by providing farmers with guaranteed income, no matter how successful or disastrous the harvest. Programs such as the CSA promote crop diversification and often alternative agricultural practices. Additionally, such a program replaces the need for government subsidies through guaranteed income. Presently, such efforts to promote such localized food distribution are small and regional in scope. Organizations such as the Community Alliance with Family Farmers in California (CAFF) are making tremendous efforts at promoting bioregional communities and supporting small-scale farms. Although they are recognized as a leader in promoting sustainable agriculture, the reality is that organizations such as CAFF are under-funded, under-staffed, and at times their efforts are thwarted by conventional and outdated agricultural policies. Agencies such as the USDA have the power to aid such organizations through funding mechanisms and grant programs. Conclusion The trend toward large-scale commercial farms, which was encouraged through traditional domestic agricultural policies, has deterred the growth of alternative agricultural practices in the United States. The result has been increased environmental degradation, increased health and safety concerns, unequal food distribution, a decline of the family farm, and decreased agricultural sustainability. It appears that a move away from that trend in underway, as a transition toward organic agriculture becomes increasingly evident. Organic cropland acreage and number of organic farmers are up significantly, as is organic produce sales. Consumer attitudes also are steadily increasing in favor of foods produced without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In order to maintain this transition, domestic agricultural policy must be re-directed to greater promote and reward organic agricultural practices and consumption . Until that time, the transition will be maintained by increasing consumer demand, and the vision of individual farmers who believe in promoting sustainable agricultural practices.


Stella Model Inputs.

Stella Graph 1: 'worst' and 'best' case scenarios.

Stella Graph 2: 'low' sociodemographics and changes in knowledge/experience.

Stella Graph 3: 'wealthy' sociodemographics and changes in knowledge/experience.

Stella Graph 4: 'low income' and changes in ability.

Stella Graph 5: 'wealthy' and changes in ability.

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