As I look at this map below, I will share one observation. The corn ethanol story has drastically increased the amount of demand for corn in recent years because of government policy. This, we are told by our Secretary of Agriculture, is a boon to the Midwest. Yet, if we look at this map, we can see that the largest corn producing states, and ethanol production states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska have lost population in their rural areas during this supposed boon time period. Fact is, current farm policy and programs like this are contributing to farms getting larger and depopulation of the Midwestern rural areas.
From the USDA…
Nearly two-thirds of rural U.S. counties have lost population since 2010
Population change is varied across rural and small-town America. Since 2010, over 1,200 rural (nonmetropolitan) counties have lost population, with declines totaling nearly 400,000 people. At the same time, the population of just over 700 rural counties grew, together adding just over 300,000 residents.
New regional patterns of growth and decline emerged in recent years. Areas of population decline appeared for the first time in the eastern United States, including New England, the North Carolina-Virginia border, and southern Ohio. Falling birth rates, an aging rural population, and a declining manufacturing base contributed to population downturns in these regions.
In the Mountain West, population growth also slowed considerably, and in some cases turned negative, for the first time in decades, affecting numerous counties in western Colorado and Wyoming, central Oregon, and northern Idaho. In contrast, an energy boom has spurred population growth in sections of the northern Great Plains that had previously experienced long-term population declines.