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The food and fiber system is one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy, even though farming itself takes up only about 3 percent of the total work force. Within the last 30 years, the food and fiber system has found itself increasingly reliant on nonfarm industries and increasingly affected by general economic developments, not only within the Nation but from overseas as well. As the farm work force has shrunk, nonmetro areas' dependence on farming has declined too. Today only about a third of the nonmetro counties rely on farming for more than 20 percent of total personal income.


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