Crisis on the Plains

Can dying rural communities be saved?


An exodus of young people from the rural Great Plains is tolling a death knell for hundreds of small communities. Experts blame the decline on such factors as the rise of agribusiness, the lack of cultural amenities and the federal farm-subsidy program, which they say mainly benefits large farms. Meanwhile, the number of Native Americans and buffalo on the plains has rebounded. Some experts say the federal government should try to lure residents and businesses to rural areas with financial incentives, much as the Homestead Act attracted 19th-century settlers with free land. Others call for reforms to farm subsidies. But some say stemming the depopulation of the region is impossible, and that it should be transformed into nature reserves for wildlife, Native Americans and tourists.

Michelle ...

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