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Remember rural America this Thanksgiving

Farm and ranch families today comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population, but this 2 percent produces $115 billion worth of American agricultural products that are exported around the world. Despite this great abundance, this Thanksgiving it is important to recognize that many rural Americas are living in poverty today. We often think of poverty as being an urban issue. But according to the United States Department of Agriculture, rural poverty is becoming even more prevalent, with more than 15 percent of rural Americans living in poverty. The increase of rural poverty is associated with the economic recession and the slow pace of recovery, which has impacted rural areas harder than their urban counterparts. Concentrated poverty contributes to poor housing and health conditions, higher crime and school dropout rates. As a result, economic conditions in very poor areas can create limited opportunities for rural residents which become self-perpetuating. There is a direct link between wealth and health in America that we should not ignore. I hope we all can remember this Thanksgiving that the food on our table comes from rural America, and that we also commit ourselves to helping out our fellow Americans who are less fortunate in the year to come.

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