Front Porch Blog

We Need and Owe Rural People

Rural land and rural people do a lot more than grow food or timber. Keeping rural people in place and doing good work tangibly and economically benefits all of us. By paying them to simply grow food or timber, the market greatly undervalues these people. Native grasslands and forests stop erosion and pull globe-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Preserved rural landscapes recharge the visiting city dweller, and they enrich our lives by helping us understand the link between land and food. Soundly managed rural lands are our most important source of wildlife habitat, especially in Midwestern and Eastern states with little public land. All of these very real economic benefits are what economists call “externalities”, meaning they are outside the market. We who benefit do not pay, which is precisely why these amenities are disappearing. The emerging work worldwide in payments for environmental services offers promising direction on how we might rework America ‘ s farm policy to reflect the real value of land and people.

News notes are courtesy of Southern Forests Network News Notes




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