The Census and Rural Communities

Cassidy Murphy
SCFB National Legislative Coordinator

 

The 2020 census results are in and they confirm what we all already suspected: everyone is moving to the South.[1]Within the past 10 year period, South Carolina’s population grew 10.7% and we are now over 5.1 million people who, hopefully, all have smiling faces because they all sure do live in some beautiful places. Comparatively, the West only grew 9.2%, the Midwest grew by 3.1% and the Northeast grew by 4.1%. The total population of the United States grew by 7.4% -- meaning 331,449,281 people now call the good ol’ U.S.A. their home.

Background:

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires that apportionment happen every 10 years based on population counts from the decennial census. Apportionment is the process of distributing the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states.

Apportionment calculations based on the 2020 Census show that Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will gain seats, while California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will lose seats.

What this means for SC Farmers:

People are leaving the heavily populated areas to move to more rural areas. On one hand, this is great because it means rural states will have more voices in Congress; but on the other hand, it means that rural areas are being developed and may lose their rural qualities and characteristics.

Agriculture is not a rural versus urban issue. People who live in cities have to eat three times a day and people who live in the country have to eat three times a day.

However, the needs and concerns of urban districts are different from the needs and concerns of rural districts. Programs and policies that work well for a growing urbanized area may not be as successful in a rural area and vice versa. Additionally, with a growing urban population, there will likely be a concentration of government resources and programs in the urban areas since that will affect the most people. Urban dwellers (and urban policy makers) must consider policies that support and encourage continued agricultural development and stability in rural areas, because, simply, people living in cities do not have the means to grow their own food. They must rely on rural communities to continue to produce the food and fiber they need.

SC Farm Bureau members must stay engaged with their local political representatives. Farmers may not have the most voices in the room or even the loudest voice in the room, but the concerns of farmers are the concerns of everyone, because, as one SCFB Executive Board member is known for saying,

“A country that can feed itself has many problems; but a country that cannot feed itself only has one problem.”

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