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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

The U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Census shows the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2010, was 308,745,538, a 9.7 percent increase over the 2000 population. That means there are approximately 87.4 Americans for every square mile of this great country. And, the Census Bureau estimates, there is a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.

In 1910 America’s population was 92 million, about 26 people per square mile. By 1960 there were 179 million of us, about 50 people per square mile.

Texas saw the greatest increase in population over the past decade. Texas checked in with 25 million residents, an increase of about 4.3 million since the last census.

The census data also revealed some alarming data for rural America. Specifically, the majority of the nation’s sparsely populated rural counties saw continued decline in residents over the last decade. The rural counties that showed population gains, such as the Mountain West, are likely the result of an influx of retirees.

The census indicates there are roughly 1,400 counties of fewer than 20,000 people in the U.S. Concentrated from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountain region, these counties constitute half the United States by area.

Jobs and opportunity, of course, are the primary reasons people are fleeing rural America. According to data from the Census Bureau, fully two-thirds of America’s rural counties had poverty rates above the national average in 2009. The national average poverty rate for all of America was 14.4 percent.

Nationally, 42.4 million people fell below the poverty line in 2009, and 8.3 million of them (about 20 percent) lived in rural counties.

Below is a map that illustrates poverty levels across America. The darker orange color indicates counties with high poverty rates – from 20 to 62 percent of the population living in poverty. The blue and dark blue colors indicate counties with below average poverty levels and prosperous counties – those with fewer than 10 percent of the population below the poverty threshold.

Greg Henderson with Drovers Journal made these observations, check out the map and make your own observations. Here are his: Southern states, especially those in the Mississippi Delta region, are burdened with a continuing high-incidence of poverty. The concentration of blue counties in the center of the map, however, is a little surprising. There’s a wide swath of blue counties from the northern Panhandle of Texas, through western Oklahoma, western Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, eastern South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois. Doesn’t that coincide – mostly – with what we like to call cattle country? At least it includes the majority of the nation’s cattle feedlots and the majority of the nation’s beef packing industry. His (unscientific) observation is this map provides strong evidence of the beef industry’s significant contribution to the economic health of rural America.



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