High: 73°F ~ Low: 52°F
Friday, May 24, 2013
Population and MigrationPosted Saturday, July 14, 2012, at 9:21 AM
How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm?
South America is not an isolated case. The same phenomenon is happening in China, in Africa, in Australia, our smallest continent, and here in North America as well. According to population and migration specialists at USDA, if the current rate of US migration from rural America to our cities continues, 100% of the US population will live in an urban area by 2040.
Does that mean that the Ozarks will empty out and revert to wilderness? Probably not, since the "rate of migration" will undoubtedly slow as some people--like retirees--won't feel compelled to move because they "have been there and done that" at least as it relates to jobs, or education. And tourist destinations, like Eureka Springs, will certainly remain points of destination for vacationers and recreationists seeking respite from the daily urban grind. That surely means that a rural service industry, and a population of nearby rural service workers, will be necessary to "serve" them.
But who other than retirees and service workers will live in rural America in general, and in the Ozarks particularly? Food production workers will, for one. Because world population now stands at almost 7 billion human beings--and is projected to increase to 9 billion by 2040--land devoted to agricultural production and production facilities to process animals, minerals, and vegetables will greatly expand, along with the pool of food processing workers to slice, dice, and package. These workers will be, by the way, mostly immigrants or refugees from Mexico, Central America, or Somalia.
Under most scenarios, by 2040, rural towns like Berryville and Green Forest will be surrounded by factory farms owned by absentee corporations, have a Wal-Mart where service workers and production workers shop, and have plenty of Public Housing which will be necessary because local and federal government chooses to subsidize low wages paid by food processing companies with public housing and other government remittances.
What won't be in our towns by then? Virtually all retail shops not explicitly focused on the tourist trade, your church, your newspaper, the middle class, and your children and grandchildren--who will have moved away to seek better lives and living wages in distant cities. Do you think I'm overstating the case? Try, today, to buy a pair of socks in Carroll County in a store other than Wal-Mart.
Does the future have to look like that? No, but changing the future depends on how well we--you and me--along with local government and business, work together to, in the words of the writer and farmer Wendell Berry, "invert the economic order and practice the Law of Return."
Inverting the economic order means putting nature first, the economies of land use second, manufacturing third and the consumer economy fourth. The Law of Return means that if you make your money in town you return it by spending your money in town.
All that prevents these miracles from becoming real is if we chose nostalgia over action, and ignore the practical arts and skills of our neighbors in favor of what is cheap, and what is easy. The future can be different if we begin to make different choices.
Ubiquitous is a word that means "everywhere." We all know that there are lots of pigs in the world. Some good pigs like Wilbur in Charlotte's Web...and some bad pigs too, like the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm. I have a picture of a beautiful Yorkshire hog diving off a board into a pretty county pond. The pig is smiling. He is a good pig. Good pigs are everywhere. Happy, friendly, useful pigs. And then there are the bad pigs. Remember when you mother admonished you? "Don't be a pig!" she'd command. She was telling you not to be selfish, and to think of other people. Your mom (and my mom) hoped that we would consider the feelings and rights of other people. This blog is about good things and bad things: good and bad things happening in Carroll County, good and bad books, good and bad food. Thanks for taking a look.
Hot topicsHI Farmers' Market Open Fridays
(0 ~ 6:52 AM, May 17)
The Extra Man and the Odd World of Independent Film
Snap Shot of a Neighborhood
Berryville's Out of Control Animal Population
Bridging the Gap--Saturday Night!