114-Disappearing Rural America

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Many rural counties are losing population, and losing it fast.

small town

Population loss has always been with rural America, but it has really sped up since 2010.

759 rural counties in 42 states loss population from 1994 to 2010

1300+ rural counties in 46 states loss population from 2010 to 2015

Some results from this are

shifting schools

going back to gravel roads

Universities in rural parts of states losing enrollment

young generation leaving after college

Now some always come back home to farm after working some place else for awhile, but not that many in numbers.

Read the opinions of Chicago progressive liberals on political blogs.

Rural Illinois is just “doomed” to dry up and go away.

They are not willing to mess up there rules for an International city “Chicago” for a few people downstate.

Rural areas all over are losing population so we should just not worry about downstate Illinois.

States with hardest hit rural counties:

North Dakota – even with the oil boom

Nebraska

Kansas

South Dakota

Minnesota

This is really huge for Agricultural Politics.

Congressional redistricting

less conservative rural areas

less farm and ranch connected representatives

Do not need as near as many people to farm as we used to. 

large machinery

400 cows per person – livestock confinement – small ag infrastructure ????

(Even though lots of city people want their food grown in other ways)  But they want it local not couple hundred miles away.

Particular states Nebraska and North Dakota

Coal and Timber dependent counties are the hardest hit, but so many more rural agricultural counties.  Obama war on coal.

Suburbs were saving some counties but high cost of gas in recent years, long commute times, and downsizing by this young generation is causing more of them to live in the city.

Great Plains has been losing people since the 30s.

Air Conditioning has helped people move to the cities, coasts, and south.

Immigrants almost always go to the city.  United States population has only been growing by immigration.

Some people do head back to the rural areas later in life after children.

How does this affect agriculture???

  1. Loss of Infrastructure – schools, gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, etc
  2. Travel farther for services Time and Money   Now we have politicians wanting to tax us by the miles we drive.  Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax – Lt. Governor of Indiana Sue Ellspermann has proposed this and she is a republican.  This would hit rural residents hard, real hard.  Maybe we drive lots of miles but we drive on “cheap” roads where people in town drive on “expensive” roads.  If you measure by both cost to build and cost to maintain.
  3. Less services eventually leads to less population. “death spiral”
  4. Schools go down in quality, especially high schools and advanced courses.  Colorado county school with only 52 kids in it.  Hardest animal to kill is a school mascot.
  5. Loss of tax base and tax base more completely focused on just agriculture.
  6. Businesses close for lack of workers
  7. End up with mainly retired people in a community. Increase in social service costs and who will be things like volunteer fireman and paramedics?
  8. Probably more things I am missing.

Dying town is not good.  Last set of renters generally have lots of problems.  Used to be towns from 0 to about 800 people that were dying, now I see it in county seats and towns up to and maybe over 15,000 people.

Exception is areas with recreational, scenic, or a particular favorable location.  Also 30 minute or less drive to a larger town/small city or hour drive to a big city.  But, some of these new arrivals not always happy with hog confinement buildings, farm machinery on roadways, and other sights and sounds of agriculture.

But just remember the last one to leave “just turn off the lights.”

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