There's good news in an annual report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service in mid-November - Rural America at a Glance, 2016 Edition. It documents that after some difficult times during the recession that began in 2007 the economy in farm country is looking up.
"At the depths of the Great Recession, rural counties were shedding 200,000 jobs per year, rural unemployment stood at nearly 10 percent and poverty rates reached heights unseen in decades. Many rural communities were ill-positioned to bounce back quickly," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a statement Nov. 14 announcing the report's issuance. "USDA has made targeted federal investments in rural areas to create jobs, generate economic opportunity and strengthen rural communities. This strategy, focused on production agriculture, the biobased economy, local and regional food systems and conservation and natural resources, is helping the rural economy retool itself for the 21st century."
The secretary said key economic indicators are showing an impressive economic rebound in America's rural regions. He noted the following especially encouraging developments:
A). Rural unemployment has declined, dropping below 6 percent in 2015 for the first time since 2007,
B). Rural poverty rates are down,
C). Median household incomes in rural areas increased by 3.4 percent in 2015 and
D). Rural populations have not only stabilized, but are actually increasing.
Many factors have contributed to this comeback. Hard work by the folks who call America's farms, ranches and small towns home made a huge contribution. So too did assorted governmental and private sector initiatives and collaborations. Vilsack can rightly take pride in the many useful programs the USDA undertook to help restore prosperity.
Farm News applauds this new report. It is available for viewing on the ERS website. It's well worth a read.