According to the most recent census (both the federal census and the agricultural census), the U.S. farm population is approaching an all-time low. In addition to this declining, and aging, farming population, the general population of the rural United States is also dropping remarkably, hitting a low of 17 percent.
Certain states within the nation are facing an even more daunting population drop. The rural population of New York is less than 10 percent. While it is no surprise that states with large metropolitan areas, like New York City, have a small overall farm population, the drop in overall rural populations still has significant consequences.
One of the more immediate consequences of a declining rural population is a declining agricultural population. Many states that are facing a shrinking and aging farm population have seen their overall agricultural production drop. The problem has gotten so bad that some states, like Delaware, are offering bonuses to younger farmers to encourage more individuals to take up agricultural production.
However, another major consequence of a shrinking rural population is a loss in political clout. When the farm population was large, politicians concerned with addressing the needs of their constituents were more likely to vote for and support agricultural protections, such as farm subsidies. However, with fewer farmers in the country, many politicians see less of a need to defend agricultural interests. This lack of interest can be seen in the latest budget cuts to agricultural funding. Without major agricultural voices in Congress, farmers across the country will most likely face further budget cuts.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer