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To create policy at the interface of the centrally important and overlapping American ideals of agriculture and the environment, there are two options. Passive governance fosters markets in which participants make individual choices that aggregate into inadvertent collective action. In contrast, assertive governance allows the public, mediated through elected officials, to enact intentional, goal-oriented policy. This essay contends that the latter option, assertive governance, is the only appropriate means of creating harmony between agriculture and the environment it depends upon.