Can America’s rural communities be saved? With the nation’s farming industry becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of a few big corporations, the bulwark of farmers that has kept America’s rural communities viable is eroding.
Debbie and I saw the sad devastation being wreaked on America’s farms first hand in Vermont. Without action, Vermont’s fate could extend to the entire country.
Austin Frerick, director of special projects at the Open Markets Institute, suggests that better anti-trust policy-making could revive America’s rural lands. He writes at The American Conservative (abridged):
A senior official at the Iowa Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest agricultural organization, recently told me that most rural communities will soon disappear. He told me that nothing could be done.
The thing is, the senior official isn’t wrong—the outlook for rural communities is grim. There are fewer jobs than there were a generation ago and the ones that remain pay lower and lower wages. America’s agricultural system is predicated on an extractive model, where more and more of the profits flow to a few. If current trends continue, rural America will soon be owned by a handful of families and corporations who will run their empires remotely with driverless tractors and poorly paid staff.
This decline occurred as a result of deliberate policy decisions made by politicians from both parties who favor multinational corporations at the expense of rural communities.
It is time to … put the “anti” back into antitrust.
The decline of rural communities and the consolidation of the American food system was the result of deliberate policy choices. If we acknowledge the consequences of these choices, we can understand why the grim future projected by the official at the Iowa Farm Bureau is possible—but that our fate is not yet sealed. Rural America can thrive once again, but only if we’re willing to challenge who holds power in the current system.
Read more here.