Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rural Decline

This morning I learned a high school classmate's dad passed away. Leo ranched and farmed and commonly combined resources with his brothers to build operations that would support their families. I went to school with his sons Darren, a classmate, and Dustin, a year ahead of me in school, both ranch in the area. These are some of the very few that I went to high school went that chose a career in production agriculture.

Thinking about them today, a problem that will soon effect rural America in the next few years became clearer. Many farmers and ranchers are approaching retirement age and many do not have another generation to take over.

For many decades we've told rural kids that there wasn't a future for them in rural America and they needed to go to college and move to the city. In fact we give college scholarships to the brightest to ship them out even faster. The kids took the rural work ethic with them and many have been successful. As a result our rural towns and communities are declining in both population and leadership.

Reversing the decline and increase opportunities in rural America will take input from many people with diverse areas of expertise. Rural development plans can not be a one size fits all and will need to be tailored to each location.


farmgirlalways said...

wow, I love the point about giving the scholarships to our bright rural kids - to ship them off and never see them again.... - we need to get them to see and make a future in our rural communities. I always say farming is about the only business that a young person today has zero percent chance of making it, if their family hasn't been in it for generations - any other business at least has a fighting chance for them. - It's sad.

Ulla said...

This is something i have wrestled with personally. I would love to farm but am afraid of the financial risk. Great ideas. Love your thoughts on rural culture and our future.