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Saving Small Town USA

small-town.jpg At BEEF magazine, our team of talented editors has had lengthy conversations about the top trends that will impact our industry down the road. These trends include predictions on food safety regulations, mandatory livestock identification system, the use of genomics in marketing, consolidation of the beef industry, intra-industry division, herd liquidation, USDA Choice-Select spread, actions taken against anti-meat special interest groups, cooperation among land-grant universities, the ability for farmers and ranchers to gain credit, the future of agriculture for young people and more.

With so many topics to discuss, it’s quite evident we have long conversations ahead of us. To cover all these topics could take years, and I hope to create a dialogue on this blog to tackle some of these topic trends down the road. Today, I thought I would touch base on one of the trend topics tackled by the BEEF team.

Prediction: “Deteriorating infrastructure will particularly impact and challenge rural communities. Particularly detrimental is the lack of opportunity for talented young people in rural America. It’s is also further eroding the research and teaching capabilities of land-grant universities and Extension.”

Drive through any small town in rural America, and you might see grocery stores closed down, the one-pump gas station barely surviving and increased consolidation of public schools as attendance numbers decline. These small towns are made up of farm and ranch families whose children have moved away in pursuit of better career opportunities.

Do you see this situation happening in your area? How do we retain these talented young people and provide opportunities for them to pursue in rural America? How do we preserve and protect small town USA? How do we increase support of local stores and shops that are struggling to keep their doors open? Who will make up the next generation of farmers and ranchers if all the young people have left? What solutions can you offer, and how have you seen your neighborhood change over the years?

By the way, BEEF will begin an ongoing series on this sustainability issue in its upcoming October issue. So watch for this insightful series by Wes Ishmael. Until then, however, you can read his two-part series on expanding in today’s market in the September and October issues of BEEF at and