We may have become an urban nation, but we remain an agricultural land. Nearly 70 percent of the United States, exclusive of Alaska, is held in private ownership by millions of individuals. Fifty percent of the United States, 907 million acres, is cropland, pastureland and rangeland owned and managed by farmers and ranchers. The responsibility for stewardship of the land lies in the hands of about 4.7 million individuals. This means that the care of 50 percent of the United States is in the hands of less than 2 percent of its citizens (USDA, Dec. 1996, p. 7). The extent and importance of agriculture in the United States means that it is impossible to accurately assess the health of the land without a special focus on agriculture.
Urbanization and Water Quality
Center for Agriculture in the Environment Working Paper
DeKalb, IL: American Farmland Trust
May 31, 2000
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