Recent rural/urban cultural, economic, and political polarization in the US is worse than ever. It may be useful for urban and suburban people -- especially elites -- to know more about rural conditions, policy, organizations, and views. Why have rural and urban become so politically polarized, with Democrats the urban and Republicans the rural party? How is rural defined? What is the Farm Bill? It's huge every four years and much more than farm policy. What does USDA do? -- also massive and more than agricultural price supports. Does climate change threaten our ability to feed ourselves? What's the status of rural people of color and minorities Do we need a national food policy and a national rural policy? (Yes, but be careful what you wish for.)
Joe Belden is a writer and consultant on rural issues, poverty, and affordable housing. Recently he has taught courses and lectured at American University’s OLLI program, the Biblioteca Publica and Allende Institute in San Miguel, and other venues. Topics have included “How Trump won the rural vote,” “Can Trump win again?,” “Bridging our divides,” and “The role of nonprofits.” From 1989-2015 he was Deputy Executive Director of the Housing Assistance Council, a Wash., DC, national nonprofit. He also worked at USDA, on Capitol Hill, and for several DC-based think tanks. The principal author of Housing in Rural America: Building Affordable and Inclusive Communities (Sage 1998; 2019) and Dirt Rich, Dirt Poor: America’s Food and Farm Crisis (Routledge 1986), Belden is also the author of a number of other articles and reports.