Thursday, January 31, 2013

Study says America needs a vibrant rural America

The U.S. economy needs vibrant rural communities to help get it back on its feet, says an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development study. The report "also suggests that rural regions may not be struggling as mightily, and may have more potential, than previously thought," Agri-Pulse reports. The Washington, D.C., newsletter says the report may "give credence to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's most recent banner cry" that the country needs rural America's economy to be strong and politically relevant.

The study wasn't restricted to the U.S. It found that rural regions generally had faster growth than urban places from 1995 to 2007. That finding should make rural places a critical part of larger economic development, U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development undersecretary Doug O'Brien said while presenting the report to the National Association of Counties. The results "run counter to the conventional wisdom that urbanization is good for all countries," said Jose Enrique Garcilazo, O'Brien's co-presenter and OECD regional development policy director.

In fact, Garcilazo said that "there's something happening in cities to make them more inefficient" because "putting all the eggs in one basket is not good." Exurbs, places in metropolitan areas that are mostly rural in character, saw the most growth of all regions studied, Agri-Pulse notes. The report suggests specific approaches to policy that are fruitful for rural regions, including upgrading the low- skills human capital in local labor pools. The study also says that subsidies without incentives are ineffective in stimulating growth. Above all, the report noted that "successful rural regions come from cooperation and conversation between various rural stakeholders," Agri-Pulse reports.

Agri-Pulse is available by subscription only, but a free trial can be found here.

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