Vilsack: USDA ERS Report Highlights Need for Farm Bill
(NAFB)--U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the Rural America at a Glance report released by USDA’s Economic Research Service Thursday highlights the critical need for a new Food, Farm and Jobs bill that will help to reverse troubling demographic and economic patterns in rural America. Vilsack says too many people in rural America live in persistently-poor areas and too many people are still having trouble finding a good job. In addition - he says the populations of too many small towns and rural communities are shrinking. According to Vilsack - this is just another reminder we need a national commitment to create new opportunities in rural America that keeps folks in small towns and reignites economic growth across the nation. He says the farm bill would invest to grow agricultural exports and strengthen new markets for agriculture that hold job creation potential. Vilsack says the farm bill would also spur new opportunities to manufacture products and energy from homegrown materials - and invest in the future of Main Street businesses and communities. Vilsack says rural America needs a new farm bill now to meet the modern challenges highlighted in the 2013 edition of the Rural America at a Glance report head on and chart a pathway for future economic success across rural areas.
Among the findings of the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report - employment fell by roughly five-percent during the Great Recession of 2007-09 in rural and urban areas. While metro and non-metro employment levels grew at comparable rates in 2010 - net job growth in non-metro areas has been near zero since the start of 2011 - with employment in metro counties growing at an annual rate of 1.4-percent. This lack of non-metro job growth overlaps with the first recorded period of non-metro population loss between 2010 and 2012. The report shows non-metro employment growth is occurring in some areas - most notably in portions of the northern Great Plains where the discovery and extraction of energy resources has led to population and employment growth. But the number of employed people was unchanged or declined in more than half of non-metro counties.