“Residents have been left behind,” said Christin Ledbetter, a former Washington Post journalist who moved to Kinderhook, Ill., population about 250. “Farmers have lost their swagger; churches, their members. Businesses have departed; residents have fled for new opportunities.”

 

 

Big Business, Big Ag bashed small towns

 

Bill Knight, Opinion, The McDonough County Voice (IL)

Oct 5, 2021

 

Sears’ corporate owner on Sept. 16 announced it’s closing its last store in Illinois, where it was founded in the 1890s. The Schaumburg location was one of 34 stores still open, down from about 700 in 2018, when the chain filed for bankruptcy and was bought by Transformco.

 

Sears is one of many retailers that left small towns when Big Business started bulldozing their economies.

 

Rural America’s struggling, from residents to farming neighbors. That’s not news, but maybe we ought to recognize the change.

 

There are fewer farmers than when I worked a summer for Jack, who had two 160-acre spreads raising corn and beans, a result of the mindset expressed by Trump administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who told the 2019 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., “The big get bigger, and the small go out.”

 

But that threat to manageable family farms created a ripple effect that overwhelmed small towns.

 

For decades, hogs were “mortgage makers”; producers could raise a few and cover payments on their farms. Now, many farmers are virtual serfs (or “tractor jockeys,” as some say).

 

“Wall Street couldn’t abide that the hog farmer was taking a profit that rightly belonged to the trade,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning newsman Art Cullen. “The suits figured out how to raise hogs (or heifers) indoors like chickens: Stuff them full of soy, corn and antibiotics, and don’t let them move for a fast rate of weight gain.”

 

Small businesses were replaced by dollar stores and Casey’s, and if they don’t have the clothes, fresh food or things you need, you drive miles to big-box stores in larger communities. Populations have shrunk and/or aged, so booming enterprises are senior housing, nursing homes, medical supply stores, and Emergency Medical Services.

 

“Residents have been left behind,” said Christin Ledbetter, a former Washington Post journalist who moved to Kinderhook, Ill., population about 250. “Farmers have lost their swagger; churches, their members. Businesses have departed; residents have fled for new opportunities.”

 

more

https://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/story/opinion/columns/2021/10/05/big-business-big-ag-bashed-small-towns/5989441001/