The relevant question no longer can be simply whether farmers love their land and resources; rather, the question is how good an ecological steward they have been of our land and resources. In Part I of this introductory Essay, I explore the farmland stewardship claim in more detail. I endeavor to convince readers that the claim, trumpeted not only by farmers and the farm lobby, but also by legislators and farm regulators of virtually every political stripe, is primarily a rhetorical device to move attention away from farming as a significant source of environmental degradation and, therefore, a worthy target of environmental policy attention. After stripping the farmland stewardship claim of its mythology, I turn in Part II to the theme that defines the Conference topic and courses through the other articles in this symposium volume: how should we respond to the poor ecological record of farming?
Sustainable development, Agriculture, Ecosystem management, Agricultural conservation