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Rural America at Risk

January 19, 2020

Dairy Barn at Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, OH, Author OHWiki (PD)

  • 25% of rural American children live below the poverty line [1].  As of 2013, that translated to over 2.6 million children.
  • 25% of rural Americans are unable to obtain regular health care due to distance [2].  Over 100 rural hospitals have shut their doors since 2010.  Burnout among overworked rural physicians is high.  Family medical practices in small towns are closing down.
  • Nearly 25% of rural Americans – 14.5 million – still have no access to broadband [3].
  • Meanwhile, large retailers like JC Penney, Sears, and Macy’s are abandoning rural America in droves [4].  Apart from requiring longer drive times by shoppers, this has resulted in a loss both of sales tax revenues and jobs.

Rural communities are being stressed from nearly every quarter [5].

Overseas Markets

For the second year in a row, soybean farmers have been left without a buyer for 60% of their crop due a trade war with China [6].  America’s soybean exports (which fell more than 70% in 2018) recovered in 2019, but remained down more than 34% from their 2017 total.

Wheat growers are likely to face the next challenge [7].  Middle East tensions threaten wheat exports.

Farm Bankruptcies

Not surprisingly, farm bankruptcies rose in September 2019 to their highest level since 2011, even as the stock market soared [8].  They included Dean Foods, America’s largest milk producer.

Impact on the American Consumer

Why should any of this matter to the average American?

Americans take for granted a steady, plentiful, varied, and affordable supply of fresh, healthful food.  Indeed, America has long been known as the breadbasket of the world.  That is not, however, guaranteed to continue.

China has taken aggressive steps to strengthen its agricultural sector [9]. In the past decade alone, China has spent $100 billion on foreign intellectual property involving agricultural production and related technology.

Compassion and Self-Interest

To maintain a competitive edge, America must invest in its farms and farming communities.  If not, we may find ourselves left with nothing more than farm museums.

When compassion is not a sufficient motivator, sometimes self-interest is.

All of this, of course, depends on whether God continues to bless America.  Unfortunately, that is not guaranteed either.  Not unless we as a nation change our ways.

The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand…[Y]ou shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God…and are careful to observe them” (Deut. 28: 12-13).

[1]  National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Child Poverty Rises in Rural America”, 9/8/15,

[2]  NPR, “The Struggle to Hire and Keep Doctors in Rural Areas Means Patients Go Without Care” by Kirk Siegler, 5/21/19,

[3]  FCC, “Eighth Broadband Progress Report”

[4]  BisNow, “National Retailers Are Abandoning Small Town, USA” by Jarred Schenke, 4/18/17,

[5]  MarketWatch, “The ‘towns are rolling up on us,’ warns Land O’Lakes CEO of rural America at annual Fed summitby Joy Wiltermuth, 1/10/20,

[6]  Forbes, “New Data:  US Soybean Farmers Lost 2nd Year to China Trade War” by Ken Roberts, 1/9/20,

[7]  Wall Street Journal, “Mideast Tensions Threaten Strained US Wheat Exports” by Kirk Maltais, 1/6/20,

[8]  MarketWatch, “Why farm bankruptcies have climbed, even with milk and cheese prices up 40% this year” by Myra Saefong, 11/15/19,

[9]  Foreign Policy (FP), “The Battle of the Breadbaskets Is Coming to a Head” by Frances Townsend, 12/27/17,



  1. Very sobering indeed. On a side note, another concern is the decline of bees, which poses a very serious risk for our agriculture. We need to be alway mindful of the poor, thank you for reminding us.

    • The plight of the poor is especially close to my heart. But you are right that the disappearance of bees is serious. It has been tied to neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides used for the last 20 years to combat crop pests.

      • yes, I totally agree that it is pesticide related!! 😦

  2. Reblogged this on The End of Poverty: Together, We CAN Do It! and commented:
    Will have a good look around your site, when I “get a mo”, Anna
    All the best

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