“What is the most important issue facing rural America today?” Damon Becknel, an experienced entrepreneur and land developer, understands that whether economic development, affordable housing, or even ensuring public safety, this topic has many implications for everyone in the United States. However, one issue affects us all and is very tightly related to these other topics: Agriculture.
Agriculture goes beyond growing crops and raising livestock; it also means providing food for Americans while at the same time creating jobs so more people can afford to live in rural areas.
Here are a few reasons why rural development is so important today.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 97% of U.S. counties reported negative net migration between 2010 and 2017. This means that more people are leaving rural areas than are moving in, which is a problem because there are fewer people paying taxes while, at the same time, demand for public services increases. This also means that affordable housing is becoming harder to find as land for new homes becomes scarcer. If you want more information on this topic, check out our article on ” The Problem with Rural Housing. “
On top of all that, many rural areas face high unemployment rates. According to USDA data, 12 million Americans live in these communities where unemployment is higher than 7%.
What is Rural Development?
The United States has over 2.2 million farms; however, most are very small. Only 4% of American farmers earn over $250,000 annually, and only eight farm operations receive over 10 million dollars each year. This is not to say that there are no profitable things in rural areas because the opposite is true: rural communities account for 60% of all U.S. agricultural sales and contribute 20% to GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Rural development refers to the development of job opportunities and infrastructure within rural areas, which can help provide even larger economic influence throughout the country and improve quality of life. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), 1 out of every seven jobs in America is directly or indirectly related to agriculture. So, while farmers are producing food for America, plenty of people are needed to keep the system running smoothly.
For many people, the only time they ever step foot in a rural area is to either go camping or participate in the annual county fair. However, as we said earlier, there is much more to rural areas than these two activities. Rural America consists of many different communities that provide unique opportunities for those who want to experience them. Depending on the region and season, people can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking or food and wine tours and local events.
Lastly, keep in mind that while some rural areas are isolated, hundreds of commercial airports service more than 1 million passengers a year. This means even if you live in a more remote area, it’s highly likely that at least one major airport is close by, so travel is never too difficult.
But Why Do We Need More Development?
If the demand for public services increases and there are fewerr people paying taxes than before, why not just let these areas be? It’s simple: these rural areas will become obsolete without development as younger generations flock to urban areas where the demand for services is much lower.
Plus, an increasing number of retired Americans now reside in rural communities, which means there need to be sufficient healthcare centers to provide quality care. Lastly, many rural communities depend on farming to sustain a healthy economy. For example, many small businesses in Iowa are family farms. If these farms fail, then local economies collapse since no one has money to spend.
The United States is a nation of diverse geography and culture. It doesn’t make sense for people to live scattered about when there are better options within proximity if they just seek them out. With a little bit of urban development, rural communities can flourish and provide a great place for young families and retired Americans alike to strive in America.
In this article, you learned that the population of rural areas has been steadily decreasing, which means that public services will eventually become less financially stable. You also learned that many rural communities face high unemployment rates and low wages, which makes it difficult for these places to attract businesses, job opportunities, and city amenities such as healthcare centers or airports.