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Deep North; Farm Belt

Deep North; Farm Belt The Farm Belt is a culture region based on an accumulated mix of habits, attitudes, and reactions to the traditional opportunities for livelihood and contact with other groups within the region. Basically, the Farm Belt is small-town and rural America specially flavored with the agricultural patterns of this region. The population of the Farm Belt is politically and socially cautious yet independent, secure in what has proven successful and not strongly exposed to the pressures for change found in major urban centers or in the transition zones between regions. "Middle America" is a popular term applied to the region.

The "agrarian myth" portrays rural America as a refuge from the "evils" of the urban environment. Despite this popular image, criminal violence does occur in rural communities and in some situations it evolves out of the social, political, and economic structures of rural life. This is illustrated by the criminal activities of various hate groups found throughout the farm belt.

The Farm Belt population received contributions of foreign-born migrants, most of whom originated in northwestern Europe, until late in the 19th century. Later immigrants, from eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries, found the better agricultural land occupied, and settled in the nearby metropolitan areas of the Manufacturing Core.

Wheat is one of the major grains produced for human consumption. Wheat is a stemmed annual grass plant with a single head that produces the grain. Wheat is unusual in that it can be planted at two different times of the year. Soft spring wheat is generally used as feed or to make flour for pasta, while hard winter wheat is milled for flour. Corn is used as a feed grain, for human consumption and for ethanol production. It is the principle feed grain grown in America. Corn requires good soil and large amounts of water, but produces many more bushels per acre than other feed grains. Soybeans are a row crop with a production cycle similar to corn. They are high in protein and have a variety of uses. Soybeans require less moisture than corn so their importance to the farmer has continued to grow over the last few decades.

USA Map - Winter Wheat  2010-2014 USA Map -  Spring Wheat 2010-2014 USA Map - Corn 2010-2014 USA Map - Soybeans 2010-2014 USA Map -  Cotton 2010-2014

Farming and other natural resource-based activities were the dominant industries driving local economies in most rural areas before the Korean War. This is no longer the case in most of rural America. Growth in rural nonfarm job opportunities was not sufficient in the 1950s to offset employment declines in farming and other extractive industries. This resulted in a great exodus of people who moved to towns and cities. These migrants were primarily young adults in search of jobs. However, things changed in the mid-1960s. Rural manufacturing and services-producing employment growth neutralized employment losses in the natural resource-based industries.

During the 1969-73 business cycle, the rural employment growth rate exceeded that in urban areas. This situation which occurred in many but not all rural areas was associated with the highly publicized rural population turnaround. Many rural communities were transformed from a dependence on farming and other natural resources to other economic specialities or a blend of economic activities similar to those in urban America. During the 1975-82 business cycle, the rural employment growth rate fell behind that in urban areas, but the nonfarm sector continued to expand in nonmetro America.

Farming no longer is the predominant economic activity in most rural areas nor are these areas likely to return to a farming-based economy. The states in the nation's midsection are not only rich in land and other natural resources, but also tend to rely heavily on these resources as drivers of economic activity. Booming commodity prices during the middle years of this decade have helped buoy the economies of these states, even while the rest of the country was moving toward recession.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:24:04 ZULU