Word Networks in US Rural Policy Discourse

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Abstract

Rural areas in the United States face lagging economic performance, shrinking populations, and waning political influence. We analyze key words used by advocacy organizations to understand how they advance their interests and seek to influence federal rural policy discourse. We identify several clusters of discourse, including clusters centered on agriculture, environment, tax policies, and rural issues broadly. Our results indicate that agricultural issues and terms dominate rural issue dialogues beyond just farm policy. Most importantly, rural development, environmental, and food issues are framed primarily through an agricultural lens, potentially reducing the influence of nonagricultural issues in the larger rural policy discourse.

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