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Census: Poverty Worse in Rural Midwest Than in Cities

May 9, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa is among 10 Midwestern states where the poverty rate in rural areas exceeds that of some urban centers.

Jon Bailey, director of research and analysis at the Center for Rural Affairs, reviewed the census numbers, which show that about 13 percent of rural people live in poverty. About the same percentage of adults were "food insecure" - a number which jumps to almost 24 percent for rural children.

"One of those consistent ironies, I guess, that in one of the largest agriculture producing regions in not only the country but the world, we have a large number of our people unable to afford food."

The way to address rural poverty is to create more higher-paying jobs, he says, adding that he sees opportunities to do that through the Farm Bill.

"We need to have better public policy that helps these communities and helps businesses in these communities create the jobs that will address these poverty and food-insecurity issues."

In past farm bills, Bailey says, Congress has severely oversubsidized the biggest and most powerful farms while consistently underinvesting in rural economic development.

The full report is online at

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA