Strategies to Revitalize Rural America

What can we do to reverse decline in agricultural communities?

It’s a question we hear often. We have presented a series of feature articles in the Center's monthly newsletter that give our strategies for renewing agricultural communities – the communities themselves and the family farms and ranches and small businesses that provide their economic foundation.

The articles focus on good ideas to plug into good process. They will reflect these principles:

  • Communities are stronger when more of the people working on farms and in businesses have the opportunity to own them. Quality jobs are also an asset for communities. But we must not overlook self-employment. Local owners are more committed to the community than distant corporations – which often leave at the drop of a hat.

  • Economic development need not and should not come at the expense of environment. To the contrary, environmental protection is a development asset. Products produced in ways that protect the environment have an edge in the market. And communities with a quality environment enjoy an edge in keeping and attracting families.

  • Communities that invest in themselves – in quality schools, swimming pools, recreation, etc. – can better keep and attract the young families that energize communities and create new businesses.

  • Community development should serve the entire community. It cannot neglect the needs of the poor. When some are left behind, the community is weakened and all suffer the resulting social and community breakdown.

  • Agriculture and non-farm rural development should be integrated. We must revitalize family farming and ranching and capture more food system profit close to home to enhance the contribution of agriculture to the community. But agriculture alone cannot revitalize our communities. We must also pursue non-farm strategies – especially small business development.

The compiled articles are available below as a PDF document.

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