In the late 1970s, Walter Goldschmidt hypothesized that rural communities are undermined by the presence of industrial farm operations, which lead to rural communities that are less likely to have a strong middle class, quality public services, and robust community participation. Increased concentration in agribusiness and farms supports the Goldschmidt Hypothesis, as many rural communities across Missouri struggle to support their local economies. Missouri’s rural poverty rate is 30.9% higher than its urban poverty rate. Agribusiness firms that control inputs such as seed and chemicals and meat and poultry processing have seen some of the most extreme consolidation in recent decades, to the point of creating near monopolies. Family farms are the life-blood of rural communities and provide for a strong middle-class base. Facing growing obstacles from corporate consolidation, farmers are either forced off the farm or find the need for off-farm income to survive. Today, Missouri farmers and rural communities need federal and state policy makers to understand the trends facing family farms and possible solutions to make rural communities stronger.
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