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River RepublicThe Fall and Rise of America's Rivers$
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Daniel McCool

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161312

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161312.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Handout Horticulture

Handout Horticulture

Farming and the Feds

(p.87) 4 Handout Horticulture
River Republic

Daniel McCool

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how agriculture diminished the value of America's rivers as a whole and instead allocated them to narrow, extractive uses. Agriculture consumes 34 percent of America's water, and more than 80 percent in the case of the arid western states. In addition, agriculture is now one of the largest sources of water pollution in the nation, as well as one of the largest users of barge channels, which have had devastating impacts on riparian habitat, wetlands, and riverine species. The extractive use of the American rivers for a single industry competes directly with other river uses, such as fishing, hydropower, urban amenity use and potable water, recreation and tourism, and endangered-species protection. As a result, agriculture plays a role in most river restoration efforts. The impact of agriculture on waterways is so great that a true rebirth of America's rivers will require fundamental changes in federal agricultural policy. This chapter provides a historical overview of America's agro-industrial complex and considers the role of capitalism in bringing rationality to U.S. farm policy.

Keywords:   agriculture, American rivers, river restoration, water pollution, waterways, agricultural policy, agro-industrial complex, capitalism, U.S. farm policy

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