Despite being the breadbasket of the world, a new report shows poverty and food insecurity are rising faster in rural areas of the Midwest than in urban areas.
The report from the Center for Rural Affairs covers Nebraska and nine other states. Report author Jon Bailey, the center’s research director, says the poverty comes from scarce jobs and paltry salaries.
“The jobs in those communities tend to be low-paying jobs,” Bailey says. “So when you add together low pay for the opportunities that are there and then a lack of opportunities, that’s going to lead to economic challenges like poverty and food insecurity.”
Bailey’s report finds rural people who were food insecure accounted for nearly 13% of the region’s population in 2010. Rural children who were food insecure accounted for almost 24%. He says that issue needs to be addressed.
“Rural communities are going to have to work on the access to food in their community and then create an economic climate that allows people to live there and afford what they need to live on in those communities,” he says.
Bailey says one of the best ways to help rural areas is through the federal Farm Bill, but he says prospects don’t look good right now.
“Unfortunately, in some of the early versions of the Farm Bill, there is literally no funding for initiatives that would help that through the rural development section of the Farm Bill,” Bailey says. “We need to change that. We need to have rural communities help put an emphasis on the need for investment in their futures and in their economies to help create those better and well-paying jobs.”
The Center for Rural Affairs is based in Lyons, Nebraska. The full report can be found at www.cfra.org.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton