Sara Wyant from Agri-Pulse (@agripulse) has put together a fascinating piece on the politics for power. As America’s demographics change, can farmers still influence national politics?
America has always suffered from a rural-urban disconnect of sorts. Efforts to mediate the differences between the two have been evident in impulses such as the Country Life Movement. But the gap between rural and urban appears to be growing. And part of is being driven by consumers who are more interested in where there food comes from, and how it is produced.
Part of it can also be attributed to the changing political landscape.
Sara Wyant reports:
“In the old days – if you remember the movie Field of Dreams, it was -‘If we build it they will come’ – and that was true in agriculture….. ‘If we grow it they will buy it.’ But those days are not around anymore,” Dan Glickman, a former secretary of agriculture, told Agri-Pulse.
“Now the line is more complex: If you grow it and they want it and they want to know what’s in it, they will buy it. That means you have a consumer that’s more investigative. They want to know what’s in their food,” adds Glickman, who also serves as one of four co-chairs of Agree, a group focused on the transformation of food and agricultural policy systems.
“That means production agriculture has to be more consumer focused. But that’s OK,” Glickman says. “Because the demand is there, too. The innovative producer will meet that demand.”
So how does this translate to political power and structures?
“Some argue that the growing demand for food on a globe where the population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050 (it’s presently at 7.2 billion), puts agriculture in the driver’s seat, regardless of the on-farm numbers.”
But that’s not necessarily the case. And one of the biggest threats to rural influence is shifting population patterns, including rural depopulation. While rural states are always guaranteed two Senate seats, House seats are based on population. And in rural states such as Nebraska, the House delegation has shrunk.
This is an incredibly intelligent and thorough piece, complete with important historical information to provide context. It also provides in-depth analysis of recent elections, all kinds of population demographics, and the challenges faced in passing the most current Farm Bill. A must-read.