“So, God made a farmer”
The Super Bowl had a déjà vu moment for me this year. Hearing Paul Harvey’s voice broadcast on television with graphics depicting the American farmer took me back to the early years of my working life.
I was the accounting clerk for one of our family-owned country grain elevators, a full-service operation that handled grain, feed, seed, fertilizer, and chemicals for area farmers. The market report broadcast each noon by a local radio station was a routine part of our day. After the markets, Paul Harvey would come on, telling a story in his soothing deep voice. Midway through, he would do a commercial break telling listeners to stay tuned to hear “the rest of the story.”
Once Paul Harvey piqued my curiosity I had to know the rest of the story. I remember hearing the “So, God made a farmer” speech that Harvey delivered at a 1978 National Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention. The outlook for the future of farming was bleak from the mid ’70s through the mid ’80s when many farms were put on the auction block.
Decline, Shifting Influence
The number of farms declined, as did the number of agricultural related jobs, forcing a population shift to urban areas. Today, rural America accounts for only 16 percent of the country’s population and encompasses nearly 75 percent of the land area. The decline is reflected in the redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts after each census. The rural districts grow geographically, and their numbers shrink—and so does the influence of rural Americans on political issues that impact the quality of life in communities with fewer than 2,500 residents.
Less than 20 percent of lawmakers represent rural areas, meaning they have less influence on laws and regulations that impact people in their districts. Amid the pressures to cut spending, it is the rural economy—where poverty rates already hover at 17 percent—that will feel the greatest impact.
Lawmakers who represent you cannot ensure your quality of life on their own. It is up to the people that live and work in rural areas to speak out and make their voices heard. You must participate in the politics or be satisfied with a smaller piece of government spending. The impacts will be felt in your electric rates, schools, roads, and access to medical care and broadband services.
Start speaking out by joining with the 42 million electric cooperative member-owners nationwide. Visit www.ourenergy.coop to learn about our efforts to keep electric rates affordable. Register to receive information and action alerts on issues that impact rural America.