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Over the past several decades, communities in rural America have undergone dramatic changes, such as declining-populations, aging populations, loss of businesses, churches, and schools, and sagging economies. In agriculturally dependent rural counties, many of these changes have been related to shifts in the structure of agriculture, and more currently, to the economic crisis facing the agricultural industry. Awareness of and support for those farmers experiencing financial strain has been noted by both researchers and the public media. However, the degree to which residents of rural communities are aware of how farm financial strain affects their rural communities has not been adequately explored (however, see Leistritz and Ekstrom, 1986). Without awareness of how nationwide economic and social forces affect rural communities, residents may find it difficult to respond to such changes. How have rural community residents become aware of the farm crisis' impact on their rural communities? More broadly, how does awareness of social issues develop at all.



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