Vilsack: Rural America is becoming less and less relevant

posted at 2:41 pm on December 11, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Over the weekend, Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack lamented that rural America is becoming less of a power-player in the United States’ political landscape.

A month after an election that Democrats won even as rural parts of the country voted overwhelmingly Republican, the former Democratic governor of Iowa told farm belt leaders this past week that he’s frustrated with their internecine squabbles and says they need to be more strategic in picking their political fights.

“It’s time for us to have an adult conversation with folks in rural America,” Vilsack said in a speech at a forum sponsored by the Farm Journal. “It’s time for a different thought process here, in my view.”

He said rural America’s biggest assets — the food supply, recreational areas and energy, for example — can be overlooked by people elsewhere as the U.S. population shifts more to cities, their suburbs and exurbs.

“Why is it that we don’t have a farm bill?” said Vilsack. “It isn’t just the differences of policy. It’s the fact that rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country, and we had better recognize that and we better begin to reverse it.”

Well, I completely agree with Secretary Vilsack, but probably not for the reasons he seems to be suggesting. The Department of Agriculture’s many farm programs exist for almost the sole purpose of providing niche subsidies, benefits, and racket-protection to almost exclusively large agribusinesses, and hardly ever the small or organic family farms that USDA-proponents so often claim they are trying to protect. Let’s not harbor any illusions about that.

When Vilsack says that America’s rural population and clout are decreasing, however, he’s absolutely right — but what he fails to mention that is that these rural populations are not always shrinking out of their own free will. Through the past few decades, there has been a growing war on the lifestyles of rural Americans as radical environmentalists keep trying to confiscate America’s wide open spaces and designate them as untouchable wilderness.

These liberal legions of conservationists, ecologists, climate scientists, and animal-rights activists swoop into these remote communities claiming to know better than the people who live there, and are constantly trying to push rural Americans off of their land or limit their use of it. More often than not, all of this is borne of the belief that human beings are always and necessarily bad for what they envision to be a static natural world, instead of a living part of nature’s never-ceasing dynamism. As Shawn Regan writes for the Property and Environment Research Center, the idea of a stable, primitive, pristine and perfect America in which our presence is wreaking havoc, is just not accurate:

Today, there are more moose in the West than perhaps any point in history—and, in general, we like it that way. …

Yet, in a way, our love for moose amounts to ecological heresy. The traditional view of ecology is that nature should be static and balanced. The influential Leopold Report, written by scientists in 1963 to guide wildlife management in national parks, concluded that parks should be maintained “in the condition that prevailed when the area was first visited by the white man.” Where this was not possible, “a reasonable illusion of primitive America could be recreated.” Taken literally, this suggests there should be no moose in Yellowstone.

But the fact that there are moose in Yellowstone tells us something about nature and our role in it: Nature is a human conception. Our values shape what it looks like, from earlier policies of predator control to the conservation efforts that attract moose to my backyard today. Human action is part of the natural world, not the antithesis of it.

But let that not deter these eco-radicals trying to forcibly mold the natural landscape of their crunchiest imaginings. They consciously want to herd people into cities, because the blights that are human beings deserve only limited space. The saddest part is, their ends are frequently counterproductive: Nobody has more of an interest in efficiently preserving natural resources than the people who fully own the natural resources, which is why farmers, ranchers, and rural property owners make the best conservationists.

These “environmentalists” swoop in with their ordinances and their regulations, start campaigns to prevent drilling or crack down on timber farms, and fence off entire areas from human use. They effectively shut down plenty of rural economies and inflicting poverty in the process, all in the name of saving the sage grouse or the spotted owl, but utterly neglecting to realize that it is their own wolf-introduction practices, land-use policies, love of windmills, and etcetera that are exacerbating the very problems they claim they are trying to fix. Their no-logging-or-grazing, wilderness-designation policies are the very things causing the catastrophic wildfires ripping across the Western states the past few years, and their penchant for top-down federal control often leads to inefficiencies and oversights that directly result in environmental degradation.

Michael Moritz provides an example in the Wall Street Journal of how the Department of Interior is often the culprit that empowers environmental radicals to dismiss economic impacts in the name of preserving nature:

After a seaside area has been designated as wilderness, when is it considered pristine enough by Washington’s standards? Is it after airplanes have been banned from flying over it? After electricity pylons and telephone cables have been removed, cars and bikers prohibited, the roads torn up? When hikers are forbidden access to trails, and kayakers, sailors and snorkelers banished from the water? When eucalyptus trees and other foreign species are eradicated? Or only after Miwok Indians’ arrowheads have been excavated and placed in a museum?

Apparently it is none of the above, at least according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Instead, he seems to think that turning a tiny portion of the lovely coastline of California’s Marin County (part of the National Seashore) into the first marine wilderness in the continental United States also requires destroying a family-run oyster operation that has conducted business in the same spot for eight decades.

So, as USDA Secretary Vilsack notes, rural America may already be well on its way to becoming an afterthought in mainstream America’s mind — but it’s pretty tough to contend with well-monied lobbies and zealous bureaucrats, conveniently flying beneath the banner of an oh-so-noble cause, working ’round the clock against you.


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Maybe rural America should decide to quit shipping food to urban America for a while just to make a point. You know, kind of like the way teachers quit teachign for a couple days in Michigan to make a point.

Only the farmers would have an actual point.

dczombie on December 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Urban China here

Bishop!

DarkCurrent on December 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM

The sooner I can get out of the graveyard of humanity I currently live in and out into “rural America” the happier I will be.

Gatsu on December 11, 2012 at 2:46 PM

In “Common Sense” Tom Paine said that the agricultural products of the United States will always have a market as long as it is the custom of people to eat. I guess Vilsack doesn’t have to eat; perhaps at some point he will be good enough to let the rest of us know how he has perfected human photosynthesis.

radjah shelduck on December 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

When the sh*t hits the fan, the urbanites will all come crawling to rural America.

I hope they can keep the hoards of them out.

portlandon on December 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM

As long as this dysfunctional government keeps punishing the productive members of this society and rewarding the parasitic class, nothing will change it, short of revolution.

rplat on December 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Two words: Soylent Green

ChunkyLover on December 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

I say pave Paradise and put up a parking lot for a gun store…that sells moose guns

RAGIN CAJUN on December 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

No votes, no power — that was the point behind both the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College 225 years ago, because the Founding Fathers knew even then that the majority population areas if left unchecked would simply do what they wanted to do and tell the rural areas/smaller states to pound sand.

(And that’s true whether it’s liberal big-city enviros telling rural residents they can’t do anything with their land, or conservative big metro area reps deciding that things like underground water in rural areas is best used by their constituents in the bigger cities and suburbs. Here in Texas, former Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick got a law passed that pretty much says if you’re a county with under 15,000 people, you have no right to limit water exports to big city areas. So the water user with the biggest straw in the ground wins, and the odds are that law’s not getting changed, because areas with under 15,000 don’t have the votes to force any changes).

jon1979 on December 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Two words: Soylent Green

ChunkyLover on December 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

That’s all that will be left after the libs destroy agriculture.

Ward Cleaver on December 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Vilsack: Rural America is becoming less and less relevant

Well Tom, ol buddy, only one thing left for you
to do….make a video of yourself urinating on
Rural Americans.

ToddPA on December 11, 2012 at 2:52 PM

The best thing about rural countryside is that it still feels like America.

HotAirian on December 11, 2012 at 2:54 PM

If we just herded all the greenies in liberals into a 10 x 10 mile area, I think that would solve all of our environmental issues.

LoganSix on December 11, 2012 at 2:54 PM

“Rural America is becoming less and less relevant.”

Sounds like an attempt at disenfranchisement of a segment of the population, to me. You know–all those people clinging bitterly to their Bibles and guns, them lackin’ the savvy and edjamacation of them city slickers like Vilsack.

Liam on December 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM

“Farms are so last century so why do we need them? All the food now comes from grocery stores, you dumb flyover hicks.”

-any liberal

Bishop on December 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM

The Leopold report has created an illusion in Yellowstone and elsewhere. The Yellowstone area was so devoid of wildlife at the beginning of the 19th century that the Lewis and Clark journals recorded that scouts and hunters for their party reported that a bird could not fly over there without packing a lunch. They went around it for the purpose of finding game for their food supply. Oh, and that “pristine” jewel in Yellowstone called the Lamar Vally, that was plowed and planted in bluegrass at one point to feed the horses and mules of the U.S. Army force that preceded the NPS as caretakers. Today’s Yellowstone is a fabrication of man as much as nature.

MikeA on December 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Since liberals are convinced humans are not part of nature, liberals are obviously creationists, at least where humans are concerned. Who would have guessed?

The Rogue Tomato on December 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM

I don’t believe large population centers were ever supposed to be allowed to tyrannize whole areas of the nation which are less densely populated but that’s exactly what’s happening.

Speakup on December 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Vilsack: Rural America is becoming less and less relevant

Easy to say when you don’t really live in Mount Pleasant, or Ames, or wherever Vilsack currently pretends to reside.

steebo77 on December 11, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I think Thomas Jefferson warned against the population being huddled in large cities.

Joey24007 on December 11, 2012 at 3:02 PM

I went elk hunting right before Thanksgiving and all I saw was a bunch of moose! Nice and disappointing at the same time.

tommer74 on December 11, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Vilsack: No one lives in rural areas
Me: That’s why they’re rural, genius.

steebo77 on December 11, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Maybe rural America should decide to quit shipping food to urban America for a while just to make a point. You know, kind of like the way teachers quit teachign for a couple days in Michigan to make a point.

Only the farmers would have an actual point.

dczombie
on December 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM

.
Deadnuts right-on.

For years I’ve been saying:

“Farmers don’t need urban America to survive. But urban America needs farmers, to survive.”

Also crude oil, natural gas, & coal. A city’s water supply comes from outside the city. Sometimes, from many miles away.

Yep, farmers can provide life sustenance for themselves, without any help from the urbanites.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:06 PM

BTW, thanks Iowa for this azzwipe….gee and to
think one state could produce this guy AND Tom Harkin.

ToddPA on December 11, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Another benefit for the inheritance tax. Those families will have to sell those farms to pay the taxes. How convienent

ldbgcoleman on December 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Well of course it’s less and less relevant ! That’s why the Feds keep making these huge land grabs !
Sounds like Agenda 21 to me .

Lucano on December 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM

This is a powerful argument for federalism. Urban dwellers have no business setting polices that impact non-urban dwellers.

I don’t trust San Francisco or NYC Leftists to understand the needs of farmers in Kansas. As noted above, urban America is populated with people completely disconnected from the land they need, indirectly, to survive. They are more interested in preserving some animal they’ve never laid eyes on than helping preserve the farm of the family growing their arugula or their ethanol.

We must return to federalism. Must!

Charlemagne on December 11, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Isn’t this a bit of what agenda 21 is about? Move people into select areas where the gov. can mandate/keep those under the thumb of big bro? bho/team are doing their part, taking more and more land under whatever guise they deem to move people out? Think inheitance taxes going up big time in Jan. on farms/ranches?
L

letget on December 11, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Farmers all take a vacation in 2013…..L.I.B.

PatriotRider on December 11, 2012 at 3:13 PM

OT: Gun rights victory in Illinois.

UltimateBob on December 11, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Well of course it’s less and less relevant ! That’s why the Feds keep making these huge land grabs !
Sounds like Agenda 21 to me .

Lucano
on December 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM

.
It is Agenda 21. But I keep emphasizing that Agenda 21 is not a “goal”. It’s a major tool, being used to achieve the goal.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Interesting stats, why in the United States are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?

Megacities = mega income gap

“Something fundamental has changed in our economy, and it’s happening at the metropolitan level,” explains Baum-Snow. While wages have always run higher in cities, prior to 1979, wage inequality was roughly equal regardless of where workers resided. Not so today. Now the local economy — specifically the size of the metropolitan area — predicts wage inequality, the study finds

Large cities are racist… or something.

Fallon on December 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Through the past few decades, there has been a growing war on the lifestyles of rural Americans as radical environmentalists keep trying to confiscate America’s wide open spaces and designate them as untouchable wilderness.

Excellent policy too! I’d rather see more Spotted Owls and fewer bitter clingers in “America’s wide open spaces”… at least the former don’t believe ACORN stole the election.

MARCU$

mlindroo on December 11, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Every time I read something on Hot Air and find myself agreeing with it, I look up to notice it is by Erika.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think HOT AIR has finally hired a conservative blogger. Having a Danish last name helps too (:

AmeriCuda on December 11, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Show me a Democrat on the commie dole and I will show you a Democrat who would eat the last seed corn and then run to B. Obama for a free cell phone to demand ,corn meals.

It does not work like the commie dole deal is set up.

The cities will fail, the leaders will be killed by the people they lied to death by starvation.

Comes a time when the rual people will keep the seed corn for their own protection.

Knowledge and the ability for re-growth is not something commie Democrats “dig”.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 11, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Well of course it’s less and less relevant ! That’s why the Feds keep making these huge land grabs !
Sounds like Agenda 21 to me .

Lucano on December 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM

.
It is Agenda 21. But I keep emphasizing that Agenda 21 is not a “goal”. It’s a major tool, being used to achieve the goal.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:15 PM

I get it . Good link .

Lucano on December 11, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Too bad “rural America” can’t just cut off the food supply. We’d see how “relevant” they’d suddenly become.

GarandFan on December 11, 2012 at 3:24 PM

O T:
.

OT: Gun rights victory in Illinois.

UltimateBob on December 11, 2012 at 3:15 PM

.
But, with a “qualifier” like this,

“Nevertheless we order our mandate stayed for 180 days to allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public,” Posner said.

that leaves a big hanging question mark.

Anyway, thanks for posting that ‘Bob. It’s still good news.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Yeah.
Who needs food?

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on December 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:15 PM

.
.
I get it . Good link .

Lucano on December 11, 2012 at 3:24 PM

.
I’ve posted that link so many times, I think I’ve worn it “thin” with some of my fellow commenters, here.

But it’s still the reality.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Thats okay.

Bmore on December 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM

ps

All the bull crap the commie Democrats and that “fraud” Michael Mann have pumped into the msm for 20 years is all bull and the facts are on line for all to see.

Earth First is a end times cult.

http://www.wattsupwiththat.com

Al Gore has a fact problem.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 11, 2012 at 3:30 PM

that leaves a big hanging question mark.

Anyway, thanks for posting that ‘Bob. It’s still good news.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I did catch that, and was left scratching my head as to why an unconstitutional law is basically being allowed to stand for 6 months, giving the crafty Left adequate time to write new legislation with more creative ways of depriving people of their 2nd amendment rights.

Sorry for the run-on sentence. :-)

UltimateBob on December 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Yeah.
Who needs food?

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on December 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM

.
If you ever saw me, you’d say to yourself, “Wow, I guess that guy could go without food for a couple of months or more.” : )

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Through the past few decades, there has been a growing war on the lifestyles of rural Americans as radical environmentalists keep trying to confiscate America’s wide open spaces and designate them as untouchable wilderness.

You think that is why people are leaving rural areas? lol

lexhamfox on December 11, 2012 at 3:40 PM

The Department of Agriculture’s many farm programs exist for almost the sole purpose of providing niche subsidies, benefits, and racket-protection to almost exclusively large agribusinesses, and hardly ever the small or organic family farms that USDA-proponents so often claim they are trying to protect.

Indeed. And this is one area that the GOP (and yes, some conservatives) are hypocrites. It seems to fly under the radar.

Food prices are artificially inflated and precious, hard-earned tax dollars wasted. Just look at the ridiculous government intervention in the cost of milk. It literally costs twice what it should, etc.

visions on December 11, 2012 at 3:41 PM

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:25 PM

.
Sorry for the run-on sentence. :-)

UltimateBob
on December 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

.
No apology needed. : )
.
It is I suppose, possible that the Court issued this ruling for some kind of self-serving CYA motive. But they did it, knowing the Illinois Legislature would practically render it void, on their end.
.
But that’s just me being cynical.

listens2glenn on December 11, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Let’s see how irrelevant rural areas are when the fools in the cities starve.

Food doesn’t spontaneously appear in the storeroom of Whole Foods.

Maybe Immelt has a fiver year plan for spontaneously generating food.

tom daschle concerned on December 11, 2012 at 3:48 PM

It’s only going to get worse as the US becomes more urbanized.

It can be pretty bad at the county level too. In the border areas, the local ranchers pay almost all the property tax that funds the schools for the legal and illegal immigrant kids, but since they are few in number they don’t have much say in how the money is spent.

juliesa on December 11, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Agenda 21 at its finest.

njrob on December 11, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Most people don’t realize this, but the iconic moose is not native to the Yellowstone region. The moose followed human habitation to the area because the humans – gasp! – eliminated the WOLVES! That allowed the moose to expand their range well southward.

I and others in the area predict moose may be hard to come by in 50 years or so now that the wolves have been re-established…

Ace ODale on December 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM

I agree with Erika’s point to a degree. However, the exodus from rural to urban started in the Industrial Revolution and continues to this day. It is in the cities, and more recently, the suburbs where all the jobs and “Americana” are found. People move to the cities because they have all of the above and people to interact with as well.

Much of the land in the West is under the jackboot of the Federal Government, and we no longer value exploration and settlement as before. The trend from rural to urban will continue, except for in the case of some cities like Detroit, which are oh so Postmodern and have collapsed back into wilderness. Complete with illiteracy, I might add.

The City needs food and without them the rural denizens live a pre-Industrial Revolution lifestyle. Don’t just think they can cut off food without dire consequences.

What Erika and others might really be getting at his how now populous urban centers swing entire states in the favor of Democrats and their welfare state. This is very much true and accelerating. You can much more accurately predict the political disposition of a county based on its proximity to a city than many other factors. Urban centers are densely packed areas, sometimes only a blip on the radar of a state’s entire landmass, but contain a large percentage of the people. They will have more and more influence in politics in coming years. This is reality.

antisense on December 11, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Rural America is becoming less and less relevant

bullcrap. The fact is rural America has less and less reasons to vote. They see the dems and GOP as nothing more than two sides of the same coin. rural america has no champion of their ideas nor ways in leadership positions. No one promotes their lifestyle in the media. the enertainment media degrades and makes fun of them. Rural America is not becoming less and less relevant. They are becoming less and less heard because rural america itself sees less and less reasons to be part of the system. rural America has self selected to sit on the sidelines during the last election.

This in itself should be caused for concern because if the trend continues and Rural America “removes” itself from the experiment of the republic very bad things will happen to this country.

unseen on December 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM

I think that an energy revolution, whether it be from natural gas, oil, petrocehmicals, or potentially some kind of biomass production, is the only way some rural areas grow more clout. Mostly because they will have low unemployment and lots of wealth generation. This will attract people and then the cycle starts anew with rural turning to urban. If you logically think about it, there is a reason why the big cities today are where they are. They all started as shanky towns frequented by miners/mountain men/traders, their female consorts, and the like until they hit a boom and never looked back. Problem is, once you get big you want a big government to take care of you. Just seems like a trend that has no thoughts about turning around anytime soon, I reckon.

Now to tend to my 125,000 strong flock of reindeer. They get skittish when the local kids pester ‘em. I go out with my hounds to reassure them and scare off the little fellers. Bears are another story. Had to fight off three at once a fortnight ago. Upside is they make good winter clothing and don’t taste half bad.

antisense on December 11, 2012 at 4:21 PM

I went elk hunting right before Thanksgiving and all I saw was a bunch of moose! Nice and disappointing at the same time.

tommer74 on December 11, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Where did you hunt? I can literally see a herd of 300 elk from my living room windows as I type this.

Norwegian on December 11, 2012 at 4:38 PM

The Department of Agriculture’s many farm programs exist for almost the sole purpose of providing niche subsidies, benefits, and racket-protection to almost exclusively large agribusinesses, and hardly ever the small or organic family farms that USDA-proponents so often claim they are trying to protect.

I agree that the farm bill does too many things and funds too many stupid programs. But it needs to be wound down, not abruptly stopped. I’m not talking years and years to wind down, but at least with clear rules. Farmers are in contracts with the Federal Government right now. If you have any land in the CRP program and the farm bill never gets passed, is it ok to not clear the brush you are supposed to be clearing, per your contract? Or do you have to hold up your end of the bargain while not getting the money they promised you? Can you release cattle out on it? Why not? Is the contract broken?

cptacek on December 11, 2012 at 4:45 PM

BTW, the current drought will probably wipe out more family farms than anyone wants to acknowledge. And the recession that keeps Momma from working in town while Daddy humps it at the farm.

cptacek on December 11, 2012 at 4:46 PM

But let that not deter these eco-radicals trying to forcibly mold the natural landscape of their crunchiest imaginings.

Sweet sentence. :)

Can’t say anything more substantive on the subject because I’ll get banned.

Axe on December 11, 2012 at 4:48 PM

What Erika and others might really be getting at his how now populous urban centers swing entire states in the favor of Democrats and their welfare state. This is very much true and accelerating. You can much more accurately predict the political disposition of a county based on its proximity to a city than many other factors.

antisense on December 11, 2012 at 4:09 PM

What’s interesting is that this not true universally nor historically. In many countries in Europe, the cities are actually the conservative strongholds vs the more left-leaning rural areas. (Scandinavia is a prime example). And in the US, the cities used to be the GOP stronghold while “progressivsm” has its roots in rural America.

That being said, I’ve lived in both big cities and rural areas in both Europe and the US. There is no comparsion, quality of life in rural America is superior to anywhere else in the world.

Norwegian on December 11, 2012 at 4:48 PM

The GOP should support SWPL gentrification of the cities and enact policies that helps it along. Having healthy, safe, and productive cities is a good thing.

Punchenko on December 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM

What’s interesting is that this not true universally nor historically. In many countries in Europe, the cities are actually the conservative strongholds vs the more left-leaning rural areas. (Scandinavia is a prime example). And in the US, the cities used to be the GOP stronghold while “progressivsm” has its roots in rural America.

That being said, I’ve lived in both big cities and rural areas in both Europe and the US. There is no comparsion, quality of life in rural America is superior to anywhere else in the world.

Norwegian on December 11, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I love rural America and would much prefer suburbanite Republicans to pack up and take back the cities instead of sprawling out further into the countryside.

Winning back the culture first begins with taking back cultural incubators like major cities.

The GOP should really work towards revitalizing cities through policies that benefit SWPL gentrification and breaks the power of urban Democrat machines.

Punchenko on December 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

antisense on December 11, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Agreed. Mechanization played a major role in eliminating the small family farms. They still exist and the way of life can’t be beat, but the efficiencies of large scale production are ruthless. Fewer producers farming more land. A new combine today costs between a quarter and half a million dollars. In the midwest, it is used a couple of months a year. The small producer can get by with used, smaller equipment, but repairs and harvest time lost take their toll.

a capella on December 11, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Well….

Leftist dictators (Stalin, Mao) like to wipe out farmers. They own the last ditch means of production and don’t like to work for free.

Bird flu likes to wipe out cosmopolitan types.

Race is on. Thanks UW Madison.

WryTrvllr on December 11, 2012 at 6:04 PM

When the sh*t hits the fan, the urbanites will all come crawling to rural America.

I hope they can keep the hoards of them out.

portlandon on December 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Country dweller here. Yes, we can. We’re extremely well-armed. I wouldn’t advise city folk to try and invade.

baldylox on December 11, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Locally, the Republicans on the forest preserve board have been buying up farmland in the name of stopping suburban sprawl. That land is off the tax rolls and very little of it is still farmed. It’s insanity.

Fallon on December 11, 2012 at 6:38 PM

I might add, with the mostly Republican voters’ consent.

Fallon on December 11, 2012 at 6:39 PM

This in itself should be caused for concern because if the trend continues and Rural America “removes” itself from the experiment of the republic very bad things will happen to this country.

unseen on December 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Interesting to think about what happens when Rural American does “remove” itself.
Considering that Monsanto, Purdue, and the like, have co-opted much of rural economies. Then add the sustainable farmers feeding the Whole Paycheck crowds. How much of rural America is left to “check out” of the system?

bettycooper on December 11, 2012 at 6:51 PM

This in itself should be caused for concern because if the trend continues and Rural America “removes” itself from the experiment of the republic very bad things will happen to this country.

unseen on December 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM

“Rural America” will never remove itself from the republic. Certainly they will never walk away from money, for no other reason than no one can live on nothing. There’s too much government support in their day to day operations. As to their social influence, it is waning. But this is more due the pervasive urbanization of our culture. There just aren’t many farm folks left out there, and those that remain on the land have an ethos that is far different than their urban counterparts. There is little if any “mixing” between the two. I maintain that there are more cultural differences between an agrarian rural Nebraska community, and its capital city Lincoln, NE, than there is between Lincoln and London.

Rural populations are socially distinct from that of the cities. For those of us that are denizens of the farm, it is a source of relief.

corbeck on December 11, 2012 at 8:07 PM

100% agree with you, Erika. The policies of the US federal government on rural America have been trending toward ideological orthodoxy for 40 years, and today are wholly characterized as such.

The reason I hate to hear Vilsack saying this is that any time a political official thinks a demographic is “less and less relevant,” he inevitably thinks the people in the demographic need to be pushed around for the “greater good.”

The US government has been doing exactly that to rural citizens since FDR was in office. It happened at a low level until the 1970s, when it took off like a rocket.

J.E. Dyer on December 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM

Look at the guy’s wiki and tell me that he is not a two-legged Chicago carp.

His views are very third world. You can do anything you like to the country side, as long as you keep the cities happy at rural expense. After all rural types just quietly die.

Actually, cities are very vulnerable to the countryside, as our pal Mao well understood. Look at Rome. Once their power over their possession vanished, all those arrogant hungry otiosi took off. It will be the same here, I hope.

Denver Bob on December 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM