- "Rising agricultural productivity means that we need fewer farmers to meet our food needs."
- "Highly skilled people are more productive when they're in close proximity to other highly skilled people."
- "Our existing farm subsidy programs don't help, and they probably make the situation worse."
We'll let our readers read the column for themselves and draw their own conclusions. But it's important to keep in mind there are two ways for a county to lose its population: People move away -- often called "outmigration" -- or there can be more deaths than births. In recent years, much of the Plains has seen population declines due to both factors.
In the graphic to the left, USDA demographer Calvin Beale shows the parts of rural America that have lost population through both outmigration and a higher number of deaths than births. The counties that lost population because people left between 2000 and 2006 are colored tan. The counties that lost population because more people died than were born between 2000 and 2006 are purple. Those that lost population for both reasons are dark brown.