This article, To Revive Rural America We Must Fix Our Broken Food System, by Iowa’s own Austin Frerick in the American Conservative, is a must read. Here are some highlights. Click here to read the entire article. While the outook seems grim, Austin also offers hope.
“A senior official at the Iowa Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest agricultural organization, recently told me that most rural communities will soon disappear. Even though the organization’s nominal mission is to help “farm families prosper and improve their quality of life,” the official seemed accepting of this fate, even a bit happy about it. Either way, he told me that nothing could be done.
The recovery from the Great Recession was an urban phenomenon. But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rural areas still have not even recovered the jobs they lost in the recession—and many never will.
Economic power is more concentrated today than at any other point in American history, and nowhere is this power more apparent than in agriculture. The American food supply chain—from the seeds we plant to the peanut butter in our neighborhood grocery stores—is concentrated in the hands of a few multinational corporations.
The nation’s meatpacking industry is now more concentrated than when Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle more than a century ago.
Suicide rates are higher in rural America than in urban America—and the gap is growing. The overall violent crime rate in Iowa rose by only 3 percent between 2006 and 2016, but grew by 50 percent in communities with fewer than 10,000 residents. The opioid epidemic thrives from the desperation created by these economic circumstances. Thus, it is little surprise that rural communities simmer with a resentment that contributed to the election of Donald Trump.