Policy Affecting Rural People, Economies and Communities
In this chapter we compare key general policies in the US and the UK that have an impact on rural areas as well as those which have explicitly stated rural objectives. By rural policy, therefore, we mean both ‘narrow’ policies specifi cally directed at rural problems, regions, communities and sectors and ‘broad’ policies that have a major infl uence on rural regions and people. We explore the history and ideas lying behind policies for rural areas in the UK (and Europe) and the US. Our understanding of broad rural policy is territorial and cross-sectoral, and is framed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) ‘new rural paradigm’ published in 2006, but with antecedents going back to the 1990s. We contrast the way in which rural policy has emerged in the UK (conditioned largely by the European Union) and in the US. We give special attention to effi ciency versus equity debates. We examine the notion of territorial equivalence, which refers to policies that specifi cally address rural-urban economic and social disparities. We further look at the rural impacts of general processes of decentralization, centralization, privatization and the growth of partnerships as ‘new governance’ mechanisms. We assess the shifts in policy thinking since the 1980s and into the economic crisis of 2008-2011. Finally, we conclude with some ideas about future issues likely to change the nature and content of broad and narrow rural policies, drawing some contrasts between the UK and US throughout.