IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Search for Effective Rural Policy: An Endless Quest or An Achievable Goal

Listed author(s):
  • Freshwater, David
  • Scorsone, Eric

To date, the United States has failed to articulate a coherent and effective national rural development policy. The federal government, with a few exceptions, has focused primarily on a sector based policy that has only indirect, and at times weak, impact on rural America. State governments, once championed as the key to effective rural policy, have also failed to move beyond their traditional areas of focus in, education, corrections, Medicaid and other state services. No obvious forum or arena in which federal or state governments can carry out a national rural development policy other than as an afterthought of other policies and programs has developed, nor is one visible on the horizon. We believe national development can only come about through the aggregation of successful local development initiatives. The sheer diversity of rural America, from agricultural communities to manufacturing intensive places or retirement destinations, makes it difficult for states or the federal government to create and manage a coherent set of rural development policies. At the same time, many parts of rural America continue to suffer from economic and social disparities with the rest of the nation and have become increasingly dependent on federal and state transfer payment programs. National rural development policy has been unable to adequately take these and many other factors into account. Federal and state governments must rethink their role in rural development policy. These levels of government, rather than creating and managing large government programs, can provide support through block grants, fiscal and regulatory flexibility and technical assistance. A new rural development policy must accept that the progress is incremental and that change must be based on a broad coalition of support. This means that we have to move from top-down to bottom-up approaches. Local governments represent an important piece of the rural policy puzzle and the revival of rural America. Rural cities and counties are best positioned to address the needs of rural America, but have been hampered in the past due to state restrictions on revenue raising capacity and expenditure limitations. Many analysts now believe that rural development policy can be carried out more effectively by local governments enacting positive changes in their community to revive economies and reduce disparities. The large number of local governments and overlapping jurisdictions implies that rural city-county partnerships must be the foundation of nationally-based rural development policy.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Kentucky, Department of Agricultural Economics in its series Staff Papers with number 31986.

in new window

Date of creation: 2002
Handle: RePEc:ags:ukysps:31986
Contact details of provider: Postal:
400 Agricultural Engineering Bldg., Lexington, KY 40546-0276

Phone: (859) 257-5762
Fax: (859) 323-1913
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. David Freshwater, 1997. "Farm Production Policy Versus Rural Life Policy," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1515-1524.
  2. Mario Pezzini, 2001. "Rural Policy Lessons from OECD Countries," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 24(1), pages 134-145, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:ukysps:31986. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.