The Latest Data on Rural Poverty

The Latest Data on Rural Poverty

The newest data on income levels in each of the nation’s 3,110 counties show the pervasiveness of rural poverty in America. Only one among the poorest 50 counties is a metropolitan county; most are very rural, agriculturally dependent counties.

For the fourth year in a row (1996 to 1999 data), the rural Midwest can lay claim to being the poorest region in the nation and Nebraska the state with the poorest counties. The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis data shows that Nebraska has six of the poorest 20 counties, including the two poorest.

South Dakota and North Dakota are home to another five of the poorest 20 counties. In all, over half of the poorest 20 counties are located in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

County Rank Per Capita Income ($)
Loup, NE 1 4,896
McPherson, NE 2 6,940
Keya Paha, NE 5 9,993
Ziebach, SD 6 10,390
Arthur, NE 7 10,655
Todd, SD 10 10,920
Sioux, ND 11 11,023
Sioux, NE 12 11,147
Shannon, SD 13 11,351
Blaine, NE 16 11,576
Slope, ND 19 12,097
* Rank is among the 3,110 counties in the nation, with 1 being the county with the lowest per capita income. Data is from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The 2002 Farm Bill – the nation’s primary statement as to rural and agricultural policy – provides a potential vehicle to lift these areas out of poverty. In a time of general national prosperity, we must discuss the ramifications of a society where income and wealth are so unevenly distributed and rural labor is so undervalued. The fact that some of those who provide our daily bread earn over 1,500 percent less than those in the richest areas of the nation should be of concern.

Our 2002 Farm Bill proposals address the low-income levels for rural residents. We urge you to read about these proposals in the series of feature articles in this newsletter and on our website, and then discuss them with your representatives and us. The Farm Bill should seek to begin a public policy that revitalizes rural communities across the nation and provides opportunities for all in those communities.
Contact: Jon Bailey at the Center, by email jonb@cfra.org, for information. He is one of the authors of the Center’s report, Trampled Dreams: The Neglected Economy of the Rural Great Plains, examining poverty in the region and policy alternatives for addressing it.
 
This Goodbye Will Be Hard

In mid August we’ll say farewell to a mainstay of the Center, Don Ralston. Along with Marty Strange, Don co-founded the Center in 1973.

Don is “definitely not retiring,” but he is heading back to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio to be closer to his 92 year old mother. He has served as Administrative Director for the Center since a reorganization in 1989.

The staff, board, and other well wishers gathered in Walthill on June 30 to celebrate his contributions to the Center. Look for coverage in next month’s newsletter. REAP Honored Again
The Center’s Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) was honored for its continuous support and collaboration with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District at their annual meeting on June 23 in Norfolk.

“We truly value your rural development work in the region,” said Renay Robinson-Scheer, the District’s Executive Director. REAP collaborates on loan projects and initiatives, and business specialist Eugene Rahn serves on the loan board.

Farm Transition Meeting

The National Farm Transition Network Annual Meeting will be held July 14 to 17 in Richmond, Virginia. “Organizing and Strengthening Farm Transition Programs” is this year’s theme, sponsored by the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Joy Johnson, coordinator of the Center’s Land Link program, will be attending. Contact Joy for more information.
 
 The 2002 Farm Bill – the nation’s primary statement as to rural and agricultural policy – provides a potential vehicle to lift these areas out of poverty. In a time of general national prosperity, we must discuss the ramifications of a society where income and wealth are so unevenly distributed and rural labor is so undervalued. The fact that some of those who provide our daily bread earn over 1,500 percent less than those in the richest areas of the nation should be of concern.

Our 2002 Farm Bill proposals address the low-income levels for rural residents. We urge you to read about these proposals in the series of feature articles in this newsletter and on our website, and then discuss them with your representatives and us. The Farm Bill should seek to begin a public policy that revitalizes rural communities across the nation and provides opportunities for all in those communities.
Contact: Jon Bailey at the Center, by email jonb@cfra.org, for information. He is one of the authors of the Center’s report, Trampled Dreams: The Neglected Economy of the Rural Great Plains, examining poverty in the region and policy alternatives for addressing it.

 
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