How is farm financial stress affecting rural America? by Mindy Petrulis ... [et al.] Petrulis, M. F

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Petrulis, M. F
Agriculture - Economic aspects - United States.; Farm income - United States.; Agribusiness.
Farming-dependent counties are some of the most economically distressed parts of nonmetropolitan America because their inability to diversify economically has left them vulnerable to changes in natural resource markets, commodity prices, and farm conditions. The Midwest has been hit hardest. The greatest proportion of highly leveraged farms is in the Northern Plains, Lake States, and Corn Belt, where more than 25% of the farms are saddled with debt/asset ratios of 40% or more. Many of the 702 farming-dependent counties among the 2,443 nonmetro counties have been unsuccessful in attracting enough nonfarm jobs to fully offset farm job losses. Those that have succeeded are more densely settled, have more young residents, and are economically diverse. Farm financial stress brought about a steady population loss in 60% of the nation's nonmetro farming-dependent counties between 1980 and 1984, sharply contrasting with population drops in only 29% of other nonmetro counties. Because the farm crisis and the resulting stress for rural governments may turn out to affect entire regions, an argument exists for the Federal Government to play a role in helping to restructure the farm sector and to assist those farmers who must leave farming. (JHZ)
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