America’s agricultural system has become extractive, and more and more of the profits are flowing to a few.
A senior official at the Iowa Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest agricultural organization, recently told me that most rural communities will soon disappear. Even though the organization’s nominal mission is to help “farm families prosper and improve their quality of life,” the official seemed accepting of this fate, even a bit happy about it. Either way, he told me that nothing could be done.
The thing is, the senior official isn’t wrong—the outlook for rural communities is grim. There are fewer jobs than there were a generation ago and the ones that remain pay lower and lower wages. America’s agricultural system is predicated on an extractive model, where more and more of the profits flow to a few. If current trends continue, rural America will soon be owned by a handful of families and corporations who will run their empires remotely with driverless tractors and poorly paid staff.