David Oppedahl highlighted several factors changing the face of rural America. First, he said farming has diminished as the primary occupation in many rural areas, especially outside the Corn Belt. However, agricultural production in the Midwest continues to provide about 85 percent of U.S. corn for grain and soybean output. In addition, almost 70 percent of U.S. production of hogs and pigs occurs in the Midwest.
John M. Anderlik discussed the trends and causes of rural depopulation and the effects of depopulation on rural financial institutions. Because the conference was held in Des Moines, Anderlik provided some specific information about depopulation in Iowa. However, he stressed that depopulation was less of a concern for Iowa than for other states, such as North Dakota and Nebraska. This summary focuses on Anderlik’s remarks regarding regional trends, rather than those specific to Iowa.
Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that builds, trains and supports public-private collaborative partnerships to create and implement strategies that improve rural community life across Wisconsin.
This panel brought together an expert group of speakers who have success stories of developing innovative approaches to promoting economic development in rural areas. Thomas W. Farmer, was the moderator.
Anita Walker also serves as executive director of the Iowa Arts Council, administrator of the state historical society and state historic preservation officer. Walker was a leader in the development of a statewide cultural vision for Iowa called Imagine Iowa 2010, which launched a number of innovative community-based projects.