CENSUS 2010 : Nebraska's residents turn to urban living (Omaha, Lincoln: foreclosure, house)
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Sixty-eight of the state's 93 counties lost population from 2000 to 2010 even as the state grew 6.7% over the decade to 1,826,341. More than half the population growth was Hispanic. The fastest-growing counties were home to Omaha and Lincoln, the state's two biggest cities, or their suburbs.
Nebraska's agricultural areas are booming because of high crop prices, and the state's 4.3% unemployment rate in December was second lowest in the nation.
This is where the jobs are going. Its the big urban areas, and the small and not-up-to-snuff smaller cities and communities are losing out because they are not watching and updating their communities for internet and facilities and housing issues.
Also social issues are needed as drug problems in the schools and in the community as a whole are killing the work force, as no workforce that can even function. The economy around the country contributes to this also.
Don't have an answer to the huge problem.
To reverse this trend, Nebraska needs to be pro-active.
The auctions of family ranches around here have become very disturbing - particularly because foreigners, particularly Chinese investors, are bidding on these properties, not only in NE but in the West, Plains, and Southwest, from reports from my friends elsewhere. The parents on the family ranches and farms proudly send their children to college - and then they don't come home, which leaves a steadily aging population on the ranches and farms to produce the food. Once they die off or become disabled, the kids don't want to move home, so they auction off the property.
This trend must be reversed.
The only way to do it is to attract younger people, who are desirous of a country life, to the rural areas. Young families who are not afraid of hard work, who do not want the bright-lights-big-city crowds and influences. They cannot afford to spend $1 million or more to buy a huge ranch, nor can they maintain a huge ranch on their own. But what CAN be done is to divide up the huge ranches into manageable hectares and sell the sections off to families. This must be done by advertising and with a lot of attention to details like water availability, etc. Then - as in homesteading days - the properties that are not maintained will go into foreclosure, and those who can make their homestead work can buy out the one next to them, etc. Owners of huge ranches do not want to deal with that, however; they want to sell out and be done with it.
If I could only win the lottery, I'd be at the next ranch auction, outbid everyone, and prove that it could work.
As it is, we are sitting on 60 acres, raising our own cattle, have built a green house for plant starts to either plant in our own garden or sell, are raising chickens and sell eggs - while we hope to make money and be a reliable organic source for produce, we are determined to be as self-reliant as possible. Other people who have different dreams - like building smelting plants for iron, making their own pottery, even bread-baking and pastry making - can slowly take back the country life and not only wrest a livelihood, but perhaps even a profit from, the acres and acres of empty land that are currently being sold like a mess of pottage to foreign investors.
I grew up on a farm, and have lived in the Midwest my entire life.
I think we need to admit that this trend of "draining the rural areas of population" has everything to do with the amount of acres farmers now farm. It used to be that there was a family on every 80 acre plot of ground - or at least on every quarter section. Said farm family probably had 4-6 kids (average) and never went very farm from home.
Today, a typical farmer covers 3,000 - 5,000 acres of ground. He's older, and probably only has 2-3 kids, if any are still living at home.
There simply aren't as many farmers as in the past. That fact has had a trickle-down effect on every aspect of rural life - from the closing of local schools, to small-town car dealerships, to retails stores, to churches.
It'll be interesting to see how far this trend goes.
My Maternal Grandparents homesteaded in NW Kansas and the farm is still in the family. It has been farmed by non family members for the past forty years. The farmer that is currently farming our land probably farms 4,000 acres but actually owns less than two sections. The Patriarch of this family homesteaded land close to my Grandfathers land and was a good friend of the family. I would say most of the farm land in Cheyenne County (Kansas) is owned by absentee Land Owners. In the one hundred years from 1900 to 2000 the number of people actually involved in farming on a day to day basis has been reduced drastically.
Retiring Baby Boomers who bring their retirement funds with them may create a few job opportunities for certain occupations. High speed Internet opportunities may be the salvation for certain rural communities. Manufacturing in the United States is undergoing major changes. Robotics are replacing the need for vast amounts of labor. Wind Energy is going to be huge in bringing back people to Rural America. I am optimistic for the future of Rural America during the 21st Century.
I also am optimistic about the future of rural America - particularly the rural Midwest. But I think rural people need to look forward, rather than only looking ruefully backward. The manual-labor intensive days of farming are over, so one person can now do the work that 100 used to do.
Even so, there are scores of other reasons to live in rural areas!
The only way to do it is to attract younger people, who are desirous of a country life, to the rural areas. Young families who are not afraid of hard work, who do not want the bright-lights-big-city crowds and influences. They cannot afford to spend $1 million or more to buy a huge ranch, nor can they maintain a huge ranch on their own. But what CAN be done is to divide up the huge ranches into manageable hectares and sell the sections off to families.
I think you're right, Granny.
Even with feel-good legislation like the Beginning Farmer program is really nothing but a painful joke once you realize that it's not really for beginners...
You have to have some serious backing to get into production agriculture. Shoot, even in my dad's era in the 70s and 80s, you still needed serious capital. Dad put himself through law school in hopes of making his fortune so he could by his own place (Grandpa thought he had too much potential to just come home and be a farmer).
After 35 years, Dad just retired. Still a lawyer...
Originally Posted by Gunluvver2
I would say most of the farm land in Cheyenne County (Kansas) is owned by absentee Land Owners. In the one hundred years from 1900 to 2000 the number of people actually involved in farming on a day to day basis has been reduced drastically.
I wonder if this is true...
To be sure, the vast majority of Dundy co. Nebraska, to the north, is owned by absentee land owners. For that matter, I'd venture to guess most of Yuma co, Colorado, to the west is... But I have to wonder if that's true in Cheyenne co, too...
The only way to do it is to attract younger people, who are desirous of a country life, to the rural areas. Young families who are not afraid of hard work, who do not want the bright-lights-big-city crowds and influences.
I'm not sure that's the only route - or even the best route.
What about those of us who are Empty Nesters? Granted, I'm not moving to a remote area now, because both my wife & myself are employed close to where we live in Omaha. But I could see the possibility of, maybe 10 years from now, semi-retiring & moving to a smallish farm where we could "live off the land" in addition to retirement funds coming in.
But even that's not apt to happen, because the price of farm ground keeps going up, and is out of range for most people. Where I grew up, in Northwest Iowa, the price of bare land is now about $10,000 per acre.
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