Poverty on the Plains

According to the Center for Rural Affairs, rural counties in 10 Midwest and Great Plains states have higher poverty and greater food insecurity than urban centers in the region. Poverty rates among rural children are most alarming.
These findings challenge conventional policy debates, which often conclude that poverty and food insecurity are primarily urban issues. According to the Center’s report, 414,331 people in rural areas, or 13.3% of the rural regional population, were living in poverty in 2010. That same year, 145,065 or 16.4% of rural children in the region lived in poverty compared to 14.1% in metropolitan counties.

Moreover, the growing phenomena of “food deserts” - the lack of outlets for purchasing food – is impacting residents across rural America. And combined with increased rural poverty, especially among rural children, food insecurity among rural families is on the rise.

Addressing these trends requires finding new, innovative ways to create jobs and economic opportunity in rural areas. Unfortunately, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill makes no investment in the value-added, small business and rural community development strategies that could revitalize America’s rural communities.

Investing in the future of rural America means that economic opportunity and food security for rural families must become a priority – a profound change from those in the Senate’s current Farm Bill proposal. Visit www.cfra.org to view the reports mentioned above and if, like me, you hope to set better priorities for the nation and create a better future for rural America.

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