International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability V. 2 No. 1, 2004
In this study from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, economists Erin Tegtmeier and Michael Duffy consider the external costs (i.e., costs to ecosystems and human health not recognized by the market) of conventional agricultural production in the U.S. By assessing the monetary costs (estimated at $5.7 to $16.9 billion annually) of these externalities, the authors move us toward more fully quantifying their impact.
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The energy required to bring an agricultural crop to market is a key indicator of a farming system's environmental health, resiliency, and sustainability. Energy use is intimately linked to the health of soils and the internal efficiency of on-farm nutrient cycles. Energy dependence is also a sign of a farm's economic vulnerability in this era of rapidly rising energy prices. Both diesel fuel and natural gas prices are projected to rise up to 50 percent in 2006, and have already about tripled since late 1999.