Rural America has been in a state of decline for most of the 20th century. Due to dwindling profit margins and capital intensive farming methods, production agriculture has gone through a protracted period of declining farm numbers and loss of farm families to urban areas.
Rural towns created to provide goods and services to farm families have lost their economic reason to exist. While some rural towns have transitioned to non-farm economic activities, most have not. As farm numbers decline and town populations dwindle, most farm and town communities are decaying with many ceasing to exist.
Over recent decades, public policy has focused on programs to revitalize rural America. Although these programs may have stemmed the decline, they have not reversed the long-term trend. The value-added agriculture movement is being called upon by many of our state and national leaders to revitalize rural America. The premise is that value-added agriculture business creation can bring economic activity to rural communities. So public sector programs are being designed to stimulate value-added business development.
For more information on this topic, see the links listed below of articles posted on related Web sites.
Understanding Rural Affairs
- New Governance for New Rural Economy -- Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas Federal Reserve Bank – A growing chorus of rural leaders agree that new opportunities are on the horizon for rural America.
- Can Rural America Support a Knowledge Economy -- Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank – Knowledge has become the new premium fuel for economic growth in the 21st century.
- The Rural/Urban Conflict – Purdue University Extension -- In many areas, retail centers, business parks, housing developments, and agricultural land all share the same landscape, blurring the lines between "urban" and "rural." As the urban and rural "cultures" begin to co-mingle, conflicts can arise.
Economic Development of Rural Areas
- A New Rural Economy: A Role for Rural Policy -- Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank – Discusses on-going concerns of whether rural regions will be able to compete as effectively in the 21st century.
- Main Streets of Tomorrow: Growing and Financing Rural Entrepreneurs – Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank – Entrepreneurship is the new focus point for rural development.
- Building the Rural Economy with High Growth Entrepreneurs – Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank – Entrepreneurs create economic growth in their communities by forming new firms.
- Why Invest in Rural America – and How: A Critical Public Policy Question for the 21st Century – Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank -- Significant portions of rural America are in trouble. We are headed back to a rural America of the right and the poor.
- Exploring Policy Options for a New Rural America: A Conference Proceedings – Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank – The United States Needs a New Rural Policy. That’s the opinion of 250 experts.
- New Approaches to Rural Policy, Lessons from Around the World: A Conference Proceedings – Center for the Study of Rural America, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank -- A new frontier of policy experiments is emerging, and this frontier holds great promise in helping rural regions seize new economic potential.
- The Farm Payments Promote Rural Economic Growth – The Main Street Economics, Kansas City Federal Reserve -- It is useful to revisit the many goals of U.S. farm policy and ask whether current programs and meeting these goals.
- Value-Added Policies Across the 50 States – Rural America – Because rural per capita incomes have historically been lower than urban incomes, the Federal Government has long been interested in policies supporting farmers’ incomes and or promoting non-farm job opportunities in rural areas.
- Rethinking U.S. Agricultural Policy – Ag Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee -- Changing Course to Secure Farmers Livelihoods Worldwide.
- Agricultural Policy Analysis Center – University of Tennessee – Weekly Agricultural Policy Columns.