Increasingly, 'farm' and 'rural' are not synonymous


By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming - 9/20/2022


More and more of America’s farmers rely on off-farm income at the same time that agriculture accounts for a smaller share of rural employment nationwide, said a University of Missouri study on Monday. The analysis, commissioned by agricultural lender CoBank, said the majority of principal farm operators worked off the farm and off-farm income accounted for 82% of farm household income.


“The rural economy has become more diverse and complex than it was even 15 years ago,” said Dan Kowalski, of CoBank. “In many cases, the historical concept of ‘rural’ no long applies.”


One in 7 Americans, around 46 million people, lives in rural America. “Agriculture” and “rural” are often used interchangeably but farming is the leading industry in only one-fifth of rural counties. Only 30% of rural counties have diverse economies as service jobs replace agriculture and manufacturing...