As more move to the city, does rural America still matter?
Continuing urbanization saps rural political power and leaves leaders looking for ways to gain attention for issues of importance to rural America
Christopher Doering, Gannett Washington Bureau
1:01a.m. EST January 13, 2013
WASHINGTON — When the top cheerleader for rural America has some harsh words for the people he represents, it might be time to take notice.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered a dire warning to the 51 million farmers, ranchers and other residents inhabiting rural America before a farm group in Washington last month. His message: Rural Americans are becoming less relevant in the country’s increasingly urban landscape and unless they find a way to reverse the trend their voice will continue to fall on deaf ears in Washington and around the world.
“Unless we respond and react, the capacity of rural America and its power and its reach will continue to decline,” Vilsack said. “Rural America, with a shrinking population, is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country, and we better recognize that, and we had better begin to reverse it.”
In the past four years, he said, more than 50% of rural counties have seen their population decline.
Vilsack pointed to rural America’s diminishing impact as a reason Congress was unable to pass a farm bill in 2012 — during an election year. More than 80% of lawmakers are not representing rural areas, making it an uphill battle for those outside of urban areas to be heard in Washington by senators and representatives who may not fully understand or appreciate the role played by agriculture in the United States.
As their influence diminishes, lawmakers representing so-called non-metro America are left to collect a smaller piece of government spending. And they have less influence on laws and regulations that affect people in their areas.
“It’s time for us to have an adult conversation with folks in rural America,” said Vilsack, who urged those living in rural areas to be proactive and not to hang on to the successes of the past. “We need a proactive message, not a reactive message. How are you going to encourage young people to want to be involved in rural America or farming if you don’t have a proactive message? Because you are competing against the world now and opportunities everywhere. Young people have all of these opportunities.”
The former Iowa governor said the strong agricultural economy – supported by high commodity prices, growing demand for ethanol and other renewable fuels and the increased use of public land for recreation – has failed to improve the rural economy, where poverty rates hover at 17%, higher than in metropolitan areas.
During the 1990s, people flocked to rural areas to take advantage of the growth in jobs. But with fewer positions now available, a major incentive to move out of the big city has vanished. Rural America gained about 2.2 million people between 2000 and 2010, but the growth was about half of the previous decade, according to a review of U.S. Census Bureau data by Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute. Counties dependent on farming saw their population grow a meager 0.3% between 2000 and 2010, and only 29% of those counties actually gained people. The minimal growth rate was attributed entirely to births rather than people moving there.
Full Story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/12/rural-decline-congress/1827407/
Comment Period for Black Footed Ferret Reintroduction Proposal Extended 30 days
Comment Period Ends: February 22nd
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted an extension to the comment period regarding the reintroduction of the Black Footed Ferret across 12 states in the Midwest, the new deadline has been set for February 22, 2013.
USCA, in addition to national and state groups, sent a formal request for an extension to the comment period. We are happy to see that this request was granted and that everyone now has additional time to carefully review this plan.
The comment period has been extended 30 days from its original cut-off date. If you have already submitted comments there is no need to re-submit; if you haven’t submitted your thoughts on this issue yet, you now have an extra month to submit.
You may view the updated Federal Register announcement which was published today, January 23rd, here and here.
Jan:Feb 2013 Issue
* Edits to the AAW Directory are due to Arlene Kovash by March 1st! email@example.com
April 4 – 7, 2013
Click Here for meeting details!
Sygenta: “Leadership At It’s Best” Training
April 15-18, 2013
Applications due March 10th, 2013
AAW NEEDS YOUR HELP!
We are working on an AAW Membership drive that will take place later this spring. One component of this drive may include full page ads in agricultural publications like Farm Journal, Successful Farming, etc. It is our goal that the images that we use in this campaign are real AAW members.
Could you please send images of your selves that represent what you do in the industry? We want images as diverse as our members – so they do not have to be photos of you working in production. We’d love images from our ladies in agri-business, education, etc. Also, the higher the quality/resolution the better. If you have images that are too large to e-mail, contact Kris Zilliox, VP Education, and she will coordinate the use of yousendit.com.
Email photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2013 American Agri-Women, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a member of American Agri-Women or one of its Affiliates.
Our mailing address is:
23217 Illinois Creek RoadAlma, KS 66401