Iowa Public Television

 

Rural Population Continues Decline

posted on March 28, 2003


Shifting population trends will exert an increasing influence on American agriculture in the coming years. Already an older and less consumptive population in Japan and Europe is reducing demand for American food exports. The same is true in the U.S. where USDA demographers expect an older population will demand less red meat and favor more prepared products. The USDA also anticipates demand will pick up for fruits, vegetables, and fish. American food producers and processors will be adjusting to those population trends.

Agriculture aside Rural residents will also need to adjust for population trends. An increasing worry for some regions is a disturbing exodus.

 

Rural Population Continues Decline

Over the past 10 years, government studies confirm the out migration from rural areas is largely due to young people searching for greener pastures. Those pastures usually do not include the cold winters, humid summers, or wide open fields of grain and range normally associated with rural America.

Of the 280 plus million people living in the U.S. only about 56 million live in what are classified officially as non-metropolitan counties. Two thirds of those counties have traditional rural industries like mining and farming. It is those areas that have seen a 5% or greater fall-off in population. The economic casualties include leisure attractions, retail establishments, and health care services.

Even so, some counties did record growth. Those regions with population increases were generally associated with industrial agriculture, casinos or prisons.

 


Tags: communities news population rural