Rural development policy in North America has moved from a position of national importance to one of marginality as Canada and the United States grew. While rural policy and agricultural policy are no longer synonymous there is no firm consensus on what national governments should play. While national governments can operate effective commodity based policy they are less capable of managing people based policies and quite weak in operating place based policy. However as rural communities evolve in a variety of ways, it is the latter two types of policy that are most useful. Moreover social change has resulted in broad public policy being more concerned with the “ecological function” of rural areas and less concerned with the economic and social well-being of rural residents. All this suggests that rural communities will increasingly have to rely largely upon local resources and local initiative is they wish to develop.


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