Both Michael Lind and Ronald Bailey note a population decline in the old prairie states. However, they come to opposite conclusions. Lind wrote,
Imagine a federal program that would help poor and working-class Americans to move not from crowded cities to suburbs in the same general area but from crowded states to low-density states where homes are cheaper and the general cost of living is lower.
Bailey says that prairie farmers are too subsidized as it is.
My first instinct is that "he who lives by the subsidy should die by its withdrawal." Cut the subsidies and let farmers either learn to succeed at farming without them or go into some other line of work. But given the number of U.S. senators from the Plains states, that is a political nonstarter.
So how about some "reverse homesteading"? Instead of encouraging people to settle and work the land, pay them to leave it voluntarily. This could work in a variety of ways. The feds could outright buy the farms and put them back into the public domain.
For Discussion. From a public policy perspective, what exactly is the problem of declining population in these areas?