Agriculture in the United States

Technology in Agriculture

All information provided here is the work of the Agriculture Study Committee of the LWV of the United States (LWV) and is underwritten by the LWV Education Fund. This information is provided as unbiased background information for the Agriculture Update Study conducted by the LWV, 2012-2014. All papers are linked to and descriptions of the papers are quoted from this LWV website Please visit that website for complete information about the League's agriculture position update.

This portion of the Agriculture Update elaborates on farm management of crops and animals, traditional and genetic engineered plant breeding, and the technologies affecting pesticides, water and soils.

Click a topic below to access that information.)

Overview of Farm Management

This paper provides an overview of farm management from the 20th century to present.

Read this paper.

Overview of Plant Breeding, Seed Industry, and Biodiversity

Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms in the Food System

The issues surrounding genetic engineering are complex and overlapping, rendering most attempts to generalize about GE foods misleading. The abundant information and misinformation on the topic adds complexity to issues ranging from government policy to individual health considerations. This paper has provided information to stimulate informed discussion of the federal government’s role in balancing consumer, farmer and industry interests.

Read this paper.

Overview of Pesticide Management

“Pesticides” is an umbrella term referring to substances that prevent damage from weeds, diseases, or animals. Pesticides are applied to growing crops to maintain crop yields, crop quality, and appearance, as well as post-harvest storage to prevent mold and animal infestation.

Read this paper.

Overview of Soil Management

From an agricultural perspective, healthy soil means a soil that sustains or enhances productivity, ensures profits and is sustained for future generations. A broader perspective may include its ability to maintain or enhance biodiversity, nutrient cycling and biomass production. In today's world, all soil functions—regulating water, filtering pollutants, sustaining plant and animal life, cycling nutrients and supporting structures—are important.

Read this paper.

Overview of Water Management

Water is an essential component of all agricultural production. The supply of adequate water for irrigation and the need to improve water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes will continue to be major environmental, political and economic issues.

Read this paper.

Overview of Animal Management

In the past two decades, four important trends have emerged in the livestock sector:
  1. growth and concentration;
  2. shifting geographic location;
  3. increasing scale; and
  4. the movement of meat processing from urban centers to rural communities.

Read this paper.

Overview of Nanotechnology and Other Technologies

Adopting new technologies is part of farm operations. Farmers make these decision based on their specific circumstances. New technologies require an investment in both labor and capital. Farmers need to know the value of the investment. Obvious technologies that tend to provide small but sure gains at limited cost are adopted quickly. Less obvious technologies take time to be adopted because of many factors including education, costs, labor requirements, and a slower rate of return. Farmers need to evaluate technology based on what they can gain from it, and look at all ideas—even those that seem to be luxuries.

Read this paper.

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