So, when rural America’s top cheerleader unleashes some harsh words for the people he represents, it might be time to take notice. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered a dire warning last month to the 51 million farmers, ranchers and other people who live in rural America before a farm group in Washington, D.C.
His message: Rural Americans are becoming less relevant in the country’s increasingly urban landscape, and unless they find a way to reverse the trend their voice will continue to fall on deaf ears in Washington and around the world.
“Unless we respond and react, the capacity of rural America and its power, and its reach will continue to decline,” Vilsack said. “Rural America, with a shrinking population, is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country and we better recognize that and we had better begin to reverse it.”
In the past four years, he noted, more than 50 percent of rural counties have seen their population decline.