Don’s research, writing, and videos have been aimed at understanding the true nature of the existential and environmental threats we humans face. In the environmental arena, that means finding realistic and effective ways to improve environmental performance without driving farms, fisheries, or other activities out of business and farmland into development and to improve salmon habitat in a way that respects the needs of natural resource businesses like farming and commercial fisheries . In the arena of artificial intelligence, that means exploring the nature of intelligence and undertaking to understand the likely point of view of a new “artificial consciousness we humans are likely to encounter in the years ahead.
These materials are provided here as a service, to enhance public access to practical information about farming and the environment and about the future of human and artificial intelligence.
For additional information on the future of human and artificial intelligence and, in particular, on the likely points of view involved, you may wish to take a look at a brief annotated bibliography Don has assembled: AI’s and Humans: A Representative Annotated Bibliography which should provide some academic and other background literature for someone who wishes to delve deeper.
For additional information on the agriculture and environmental issues, the researcher may wish to view the website of American Farmland Trust which has a wealth of materials on these topics.
Note that the materials below are available as PDF files, unless otherwise indicated.
Environmental markets for agriculture:
Farms and ranches generate environmental services that are of great value to the rest of society. Using well-known “best management practices,” farmers and ranchers can greatly enhance those services. Environmental markets can pay for providing them, producing supplemental revenue to help support the working farm or ranch business.
The following materials describe environmental markets, show how they can work for agriculture, and address some of the issues they create:
- “Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers,” American Farmland Trust, October 2010
- Video of workshop on “Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers,” on 11/17/10 recorded on Skagit 21 public television
- Advocacy paper: “How Ecosystem Markets Can Transform Agriculture and Protect the Environment,” American Farmland Trust
- “Conservation Markets for Agriculture – An Issue and Discussion Paper,” (a paper provided to enrich discussion at the three-state Conservation Markets for Agriculture Workshop and Listening Session held in Vancouver, WA 11/5/2008.
- “How Environmental Markets Can Preserve Agricultural Lands While Helping To Protect the Environment,” a focus group discussion paper.
- “Maximizing Opportunities for Farmland Protection in Environmental Markets,” a focus group discussion paper.
- “Models for Land Protection in Environmental Markets,” a focus group discussion paper.
- “Prospects and Models for Conservation Districts in Environmental Markets,” a focus group discussion paper for use by conservation districts.
Conservation incentives in agriculture:
If we are to protect and retain our working farm businesses, we will need strong, effective, and strategic conservation incentive programs. If these programs are to be seen as a viable alternative to regulation, they need to be credible with the public that must pay for them. And they need to be fair, both for taxpayers and for the farmers and ranchers we hope will use them.
The following materials discuss some of the issues with environmental incentive programs and explains how we can make them stronger:
- “Conservation Incentives Project Final Report,” a report on how to improve the strategic effectiveness of environmental incentives in agriculture.
- “Benefits for Landowners of Better Incentive Programs,” a discussion paper developed for the Conservation Incentives Project.
- “Why Are Better Conservation Incentive Programs Important,” a discussion paper developed for the Conservation Incentives Project.
- “What Issues Suggest Improvements in Incentive Programs Are Needed,” a discussion paper developed for the Conservation Incentives Project.
- “What Critical Definitions Are Needed in Improving Incentive Programs,” a discussion paper developed for the Conservation Incentives Project.
- “What Might Be Done to Improve Incentive Programs,” a discussion paper developed for the Conservation Incentives Project.
Preserving farmland and the environment:
The loss of farmland to development and its fragmentation into small parcels that are uneconomic for agriculture and end up being put to non-farm uses is almost always a net loss for the environment.
The following materials explain the issues with farmland loss and show how communities can address them while dealing fairly with both their landowners and the rest of their citizens:
- “Sustaining the Land for Sustainable Agriculture,” an article by Don Stuart published in American Farmland Magazine, Winter 2004.
- “Saving Farms and Salmon,” an article by Don Stuart published in American Farmland Magazine, Winter 2007.
- “Issues To Consider in Assembling a Purchase of Development Rights Program,” a working checklist for planners.
- “Questions and Answers about Purchase of Development Rights Programs,” useful information for the farm community.
- “Why a Farmer Would be Interested in Selling Development Rights“
- “Cost of Community Services (COCS) Study for San Juan County,” completed in 2007.
- “Cost of Community Services (COCS) Study for Okanogan County,” completed in 2004.
- “Cost of Community Services (COCS) Study for Skagit County,” completed in 1999.
- “Bainbridge Island Report on Preserving City-Owned Farmlands,” a report to the City of Bainbridge Island, January 2006.
- “Agricultural Lands Statistics Working Paper,” prepared by Don Stuart for the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s “Future of Farming” Report.
- “Keeping Land Available for Klickitat County Agriculture,” Report to the Klickitat County Commission, 12/22/08.
- “Issues and Options for Protecting Farmland,” a discussion paper prepared for Klickitat County, WA, October-November 2008.
- Pioneers in Conservation: Stories From the Field – Pioneers – January 2007 Report and Pioneers – June 2009 Report, which describe the 37 grants made which restored salmon habitat on working farms while helping strengthen the farm business.
Economic viability for agriculture:
Farms are in business. It is when those businesses fail, or when they must sell, that we lose our treasured working farmland. So a necessary part of preserving agriculture and preventing the environmentally damaging development of farmland and ranchland is assuring the economic viability of those farm and ranch businesses.
The following materials deal with economic viability in agriculture and shows how communities can help farmers stay in business and on the land:
- “Local Farm Economic Viability Programs,” suggestions for ways local communities can improve the economic viability of agriculture.
- “Business Inputs for Successful Agriculture: Input Chart and Outline,” A chart and outline of the economic “inputs” required for successful agriculture.
- “The Suitability, Viability, Needs, and Economic Future of Pierce County Agriculture,” the Phase I economic strategic planning report completed for Pierce County Agriculture, 8/31/04.
- “Economic Impacts of Agriculture in Skagit County,” a report to Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, 8/1/03.