June 2024


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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Bookend Generations in Rural America










By John Crabtree
johnc@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs

Many rural American communities find themselves caught between bookend generations – under 20 and over 65 – that require more resources in areas such as health care and education. This long-term demographic trend challenges all of rural America, especially the Midwest and Great Plains.

According to a Center for Rural Affairs report  examining data from the 2010 Census, the rural Great Plains and Midwest continue to lose population, in particular young, working age adults (20 to 44 years of age). As young people flock to metropolitan counties, investment will flow into those areas to create jobs and meet the needs of the expanding population. Conversely, such investments are less likely in surrounding rural areas. Therefore, it is crucial for rural communities and public policy to find new, innovative ways to revitalize rural economies.

In the next farm bill, we face a choice… invest in rural America’s future by fostering the creation of jobs and economic opportunity, or, continue spending tax dollars on virtually unlimited commodity and crop insurance programs regardless of how few people benefit. We know the history – overall, federal investment in rural development has fallen more than 25% since 2003.

We must choose a different path. By imposing effective caps on commodity and crop insurance subsidies we can afford to both reduce the deficit and avoid additional cuts in rural development investments that actually create jobs and help the next generation of family farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses get started.

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