RURAL DEPOPULATION RESULTS FROM RURAL DECAPITALIZATION

A healthy Farm Business Environment is underpinned at both the start-up and expansion stage by a dedicated source of capital, Farm Credit, a federal bank. Even if the farm business has its working capital or infrastructure capital funded by a commercial bank, the reality is that Farm Credit acts as a last-resort source of farm capital.

Increasingly though, both agricultural and non-agricultural Micro-capital, Penny Capital and Small Capital Business are not even in the capital financing equation, except possibly through some disjoint government programs, which come and go haphazardly. There is a source of capital of last resort for non-farm businesses in Rural Canada.

The forces which are shaping the land in Rural Canada are not natural or inevitable but are policy-driven to meet the needs of large corporations and urban Canada, not farm families or other rural people.

Dying rural communities and the disappearance of the rural way of life in Eastern Ontario will continue inevitably, if not checked and altered. The external forces presently in play will create an outcome similar to either one of the following twilight zones that already exist in Canada. The same external forces which are effectively driving the bus today in rural Eastern Ontario has already caused the proverbial bus to be driven off the road in other regions of rural Canada.

In Southern Alberta, these forces have resulted in a successful rural corporate agricultural business environment.  Absentee farm owners live in Calgary and a once vibrant rural culture has all but disappeared from the landscape. In the Maritimes, these forces have left large rural regions nearly devoid of a viable economy.  Indeed also in the wake, these external forces, have left a smouldering rural population encumbered in austerity, an economic environment of ever-threatening poverty.

Yet, there is still no need to despair. This threatening plight facing Rural Canada is not a natural phenomenon, nor is it due to some great conspiracy by either Big Banks or Big Government.  It is a policy phenomenon driven by well-meaning decision-makers in Corporations, Universities and Government. We only need to look beyond Canada’s shores to gain inspiration and hope. Other nations have faced similar economic forces and succeeded in overcoming this dilemma.  

Next week, I will write about tried and proven approaches which include taking control of our own destiny. I shall look to rural communities in other nations as a source of inspiration.  I will investigate solutions and rural institutions which have resisted and overcome similar conditions that plague Rural Canada. Rural Germany has maintained vibrant rural communities and village economy through three major wars, and periods of high inflation and deep depression, spanning over 200 years.

A rural economic model found in  New Zealand suggests that our rural communities can bring solutions to the forefront for addressing rural depopulation, decapitalization, loss of services and the accompanying rural economic stagnation of Canada’s towns and villages.

 There is hope for a way and means to overcome both the decapitalization and the depopulation that has continued to scar Rural Canada for the better part of a century.

Second in Series: Please contact me, Alastair Fraser, at publicbankcanada@gmail.com