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May/June 2005

Inside This Issue:


Non Ag Rural Policies in the EU May Provide Ideas for Pennsylvania Rural Development
Rural areas in the European Union (EU) and Pennsylvania are facing many of the same challenges, including slow growing and aging populations, trouble retaining educated youth, and job loss due to rural economies dominated by one or two industries.

Pennsylvania and the EU are both exploring methods to support rural economies outside of the traditional sectors while respecting the principles of their respective common markets and doing so with limited funding.

To examine the similarities and differences in the challenges facing rural communities and policy makers in the EU and Pennsylvania, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania analyzed demographic and economic conditions in the EU and compared them to those in Pennsylvania. The Center also examined responses to these challenges, which may help Pennsylvania take a fresh look at governmental responses to common rural issues. Finally, the Center completed three case studies of rural development in the EU.

The analysis and case studies were completed in 2004.

Rural Development in the EU
The EU, formally created by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, consists of 15 original and 10 newer member states.

The EU’s focus on non-agricultural rural development began in 1992, when pressure to decrease agricultural subsidies grew.

The Cork Declaration of 1996, which set an overarching framework for rural development in the EU, followed the subsidy reform. The Cork Declaration focused on sustainable rural development; decentralization of policy administration; increases of partnerships between public, private and volunteer sectors; encouragement of bottom-up approaches to rural development; a greater emphasis on the diversification of rural economies; and a shift from subsidizing failing industries to strategic investment in new, more successful activities. As a result of Cork, two European Community programs that provide rural development funding streams were reformed to promote the health of rural regions both on and off the farm.

Funding for EU rural development programs is supplied from revenue from the EU’s general fund, which is generated from taxes on the sales of goods, from a percentage of member states’ Gross National Product (GNP), and from duties and tariffs. The two main avenues of rural development funding are the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Structural Funds.

CAP has evolved significantly in recent years. Originally, CAP was designed to ensure food security and fair prices for farmers and consumers. Since the 1997 reforms, known as Agenda 2000, CAP has a two-pillar structure, the first of which is supplying agricultural subsidies. Under Agenda 2000, EU member states could reduce payments to larger farms and redirect the savings to rural development. In 2003, CAP was further reformed to require reductions in payments for large farms with most of the savings going to rural development.

Another component of CAP, called Rural Development Regulation, deals with non-production agricultural policies, such as land improvement and reparcelling, basic services for the rural economy and population, renovating and developing villages and protecting and conserving the rural heritage, encouraging tourist and craft activities, and financial engineering, among others.

Rural development funds have traditionally accounted for only 10 to 11 percent of the CAP budget but will be allowed to double through decreased agricultural subsidies and specific rural development funds granted by the EU or member states.

Structural Funds are intended to help increase economic and social cohesion between member states, and constitute an important instrument for reducing regional imbalances and differences in economic development. These funds provide monies to member states for development in regions that are in need of economic and infrastructure improvements to be competitive in the common market.

From the analysis, the Center found that Pennsylvania is not alone in its efforts to improve the lives of its rural citizens. In some ways, the challenges facing rural areas in the EU mirror those facing Pennsylvania since rural areas play an important role in both regions.

The analysis includes several policy decisions in the EU and their relevance to Pennsylvania, including:

More Information
For a copy of the full analysis, Rural Development in the European Union: Lessons for Pennsylvania, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email


Still Time to Sign Up for Summer Food Service Pilot
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is still seeking partners for its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) pilot, which is aimed at feeding more rural children over the coming summer months. The pilot expands the eligibility for nonprofit, government and school programs in rural areas where at least 40 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced meals. Pennsylvania is the only state running the pilot. To get involved in the pilot or for more information, call Susan Still with the state Department of Education at (800) 331-0129, extension 78455, or email


Chairman’s Message
Change is inevitable. And once again I lead off my message by saying goodbye to a member of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Board of Directors and welcoming a familiar face back to the Board. In April, Senator Mary Jo White relinquished her seat on the Board due to time demands that her leadership position in the Pennsylvania Senate is requiring. Senator White has championed numerous rural Pennsylvania issues and has been a strong voice on the Center’s Board for nearly eight years.

While we will miss Senator White’s contributions to the Center’s decision-making team, we are pleased to have back on board Senator John Gordner. Senator Gordner served on the Center’s Board from 1997 to 2001 as a member of the House of Representatives before he was elected to the state Senate. I look forward to his active participation and enthusiasm for rural Pennsylvania.

As a member of the General Assembly, I am always interested in learning how other states tackle rural development policy issues. In-house research and analysis by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania shows that we can also learn something about rural policy from member states in the European Union, or EU. The results of the analysis, which are featured on page 1, demonstrate that the EU and Pennsylvania face many of the same challenges when it comes to rural areas. The analysis highlights several policy decisions that the EU and its member states have implemented, such as “rural proofing,” which requires policy makers and agencies to consider the impact of their actions on rural areas so that rural issues are not overlooked.

As the summer months arrive, be sure not to overlook attractions close to home as you plan your vacation. You don’t have to cross our Commonwealth’s borders to experience a great get-away. The possibilities here in the Keystone state are endless. To learn more about how one locale in the northern tier is working to attract travelers to the Pennsylvania portion of Route 6, turn to our Rural Works article on page 4, which highlights a local, ongoing community effort to play up area assets and plan for the future. Envision Linesville is looking to establish a national visitors center and museum and to build upon the Linesville area’s current tourism base. While the group has only been active for about three years, it has made some impressive strides toward its goals.

Last year, we had some good news to share about the federal Summer Food Service Program, which was a part of the federal Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act. Pennsylvania had been selected to conduct a pilot program that may help feed more rural school children over the summer months of 2005 and 2006. The state Department of Education is continuing to look for partners for that pilot program, so contact the department at the number listed on page 1 if you can participate.

Are you planning an early or late summer wedding? If you are planning to tie the knot in May, July, August or September, you will be joining the majority of other brides and grooms who choose these months to make this lifelong commitment to each other. Check out the article on page 5 for some other interesting information on weddings and married rural Pennsylvanians.

I wish all of you a safe and memorable summer.

Representative Sheila Miller


Center Board Welcomes Senator John Gordner
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Board of Directors welcomes its newest board member, Senator John R. Gordner. Senator Gordner is serving his first full term in the Senate and represents the 27th Senatorial District, which includes all of Columbia, Northumberland, Montour and Snyder counties and parts of Luzerne and Dauphin counties.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Senator Gordner served for 11 years in the House of Representatives. As a member of the House, Senator Gordner served on the Center's Board of Directors for four years.

Presently, Senator Gordner serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and as a member of the Aging and Youth, Communications and Technology, Community and Economic Development, Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, and Judiciary Committees. In addition, Senator Gordner is a member of the Joint Legislative Conservation Committee.

Senator Gordner also serves as a member of the Berwick Rotary Club, the Columbia/Montour Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation.

Senator Gordner earned his bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College and his law degree from the Dickinson School of Law.


Rural Works: More Than Just a Stop Along the Way
This article is part of a series that demonstrates how communities are tackling issues at the grassroots level in rural Pennsylvania. The projects and programs highlighted in the series cover a wide range of issues, from health and education to community building, telecommunications and financing. Thanks to those who shared the details of their projects with us. Now, we can share them with you so that we can all learn how rural works in Pennsylvania.

It’s one of many towns that sit along the 3,256-mile stretch of road that is Route 6. But this small, rural borough wants to be more than a quick stop for travelers who want to witness the Linesville Spillway, where the fish are so plentiful that the ducks walk on the fishes’ backs.

Instead, it wants to build on its existing tourism base, which includes a host of avid hikers, bikers and sportsmen and women, by enlisting the help of Envision Linesville, Inc. (ELI) to work toward a larger goal.

ELI, a nonprofit organization made up of residents and former residents of Linesville Borough, Crawford County, got its start in late 2002 after some former residents talked about their plans to move back to the greater Linesville area.

“Some friends and I had gone off to college and found jobs in other areas after we graduated,” says Doug Smith, president of Envision Linesville. “But we wanted to move back to western Pennsylvania because it was such a great place to grow up. And we wanted to offer something to the community in return.”

In 2003, Smith initiated meetings with community members, including local government officials, the local Chamber of Commerce, business owners, community-service organizations and others, to talk about the future and residents’ vision for their community.

The initial outcome of those meetings was the creation of ELI and a mission to increase citizen interest, involvement and activity in the greater Linesville area and to promote and encourage healthy lifestyles and life-long learning.

Within a few months of forming the group, its members incorporated the organization, adopted bylaws and started the process of becoming a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The organization also initiated a yearly student essay contest in the Linesville School District to get children thinking more about their community and the contributions they could make to their hometowns.

This year, the poetry and essay contest garnered 80 submissions from junior and senior high school students from 12 schools throughout Crawford County. The six winners received savings bonds and recognition at the 2005 Route 6 Symposium, which the group held to update residents on ELI’s on-going activities, including its National U.S. Route 6 Museum project and its Trails Vision Plan.

“We envision the National Route 6 Museum as an anchor site for a whole system of visitor centers and museums along Route 6, possibly in all 14 states,” Smith says. “So far, we’ve received calls from people in Utah, Colorado and Indiana who are interested in partnering with us and establishing visitor centers or museums in their areas.” ELI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase a property that will house the visitor center and museum and is continuing to work on other components of the museum’s master plan.

ELI is working closely with the U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association on the museum project and is also working with the Pennsylvania Route 6 Tourist Association on this and other projects.

The Trails Vision Plan will demonstrate how ELI’s proposed trails will mesh with current trails and facilities in the area. The proposed trail corridor would link the Linesville Little League Complex, which is located on Route 6, with a recreational beach, campground, and boat launch on Pymatuning Lake. Eventually, ELI would like to connect the trail to downtown Linesville to provide a safe way for children and adults who live in town to bike or walk to the recreational facilities around the lake.

While ELI has other projects on its to-do list, it is focusing its attention on these two projects for the near future. And the greater Linesville community is continuing to focus attention on ELI. According to Smith, ELI receives many emails from community members, and has received a great deal of support for special events. “The community is definitely paying attention to what the board is doing,” he says. According to Smith, ELI has had great success in stirring community interest and bringing people to the table to discuss the vision and goals of the community. And that sits well with ELI, which is working its way to helping the greater Linesville area become more than just a quick stop along the way to someplace else.


The Rural Works Breakdown: Envision Linesville, Inc.
Goals/Mission: Increase citizen interest, involvement and activity in the greater Linesville area and promote and encourage healthy lifestyles and life-long learning, accomplished through educational and charitable activities that improve the quality of life by preserving and enhancing the rural, small town characteristics of the area while building on its natural, cultural, historic and human resources.

Funding and In-Kind Support: $500 in out-of-pocket monies from the eight-member board of directors to file for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. About $1,000 to $2,000 in donations and in-kind support from local businesses, local governments, nonprofit organizations and community-service organizations for meeting sites, refreshments, printing and event expenses.

Manpower: Eight-member board of directors and community volunteers.

Measurable Outcomes: Established as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; Created Master Plan to establish National U.S. Route 6 Visitor Center and Museum and partnered with the U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association; Created Envision Linesville website to keep community up-to-date on organization’s activities.

Challenges: Formally establishing the organization as a nonprofit organization.

Advice for Replication: “It doesn’t take a ton of money or a group of high-priced consultants to put something like this together. It just takes a group of people who are concerned about their community, organized and willing to put forth the effort.” Doug Smith, Envision Linesville president.

Contact Information: Visit; email; call Doug Smith at (724) 368-9991.


Here Come the Brides!
Over the next few months, thousands of rural Pennsylvanians will be walking down the aisle and joining millions of other rural Pennsylvanians in wedded bliss.

Statewide, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, the most popular wedding month in 2002 was August, when 8,820 marriages occurred, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the year’s marriages. The popular months of July (11.6 percent), May (11.2 percent), and September (10.8 percent) followed, each with more than 8,000 marriages. January was the least popular month in which to tie the knot, with only 3,377 marriages or less than 5 percent of marriages for the year. December (5.0 percent), February (5.2 percent), and November (5.3 percent) were also unpopular, each with fewer than 4,000 marriages. Times have changed since 1996, when more than a quarter of all marriages took place during the “in” months of June and September.

According to Census 2000 data, about 60 percent of rural Pennsylvania residents age 15 and older are married. This 15 year old and older age group included a total of 2,851,753 rural Pennsylvanians in 2000. About one-quarter of this population had never married, and the remainder was about equally split between those who were widowed and those who were divorced.

Marital status hasn’t changed much since 1990, but slightly higher percentages of rural Pennsylvanians were married and widowed then, and a lower percentage was divorced.

In 2000, 92 percent of married couples lived together, while 3 percent were separated and 5 percent lived apart for other reasons. Of those who never married, 78 percent were 35 years old or younger. Only 5 percent of those who had never married were age 60 and older. Men were more likely than women never to have been married – 27 percent versus 21 percent.

Further examination of marital status for different age cohorts finds that less than 4 percent of the population under age 20 was married. Meanwhile, 28 percent of those age 60 and older were widowed.

According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 21,700 marriages took place in rural Pennsylvania in 2002. This amounts to 6.4 marriages for every 1,000 residents, which is higher than the urban rate of 5.9. The number of rural marriages has increased by 3 percent since 1996, faster than the 1 percent change in population.

The majority of rural women (51 percent) get married between the ages of 20 and 29; 22 percent of brides are between the ages of 30 and 39 and 20 percent are age 40 or older. Just 6 percent of rural brides were younger than 20 in 2002. Grooms also tend to get married in their 20s but are often older, with 26 percent marrying in their 30s and 24 percent marrying at age 40 or older. Urban brides and grooms both tend to be older than their rural counterparts.

According to the department’s divorce statistics, more than half of the divorces in rural Pennsylvania happen before a couple's 10th year of marriage. Of those, half take place in the first five years of marriage. Surprisingly, one in 10 divorces is of couples that have been married at least 25 years. Urban couples tend to be married longer than rural couples before getting a divorce.

Note: Pennsylvania rural residents are those living in the state’s 48 counties with a population density less than the statewide figure of 274 persons per square mile.


Just the Facts: The Going and Coming of Pennsylvania Rural Residents
The out-migration of young adults in rural Pennsylvania is a concern for many rural communities. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, between 1995 and 2000, 145,543 persons between the ages of 20 and 34 moved out of rural Pennsylvania.

However, as the first map shows, these young adults did not move very far away. Approximately 43 percent of these young adults moved from a Pennsylvania rural county to a Pennsylvania urban county. Among the young adults that moved to another state, 22 percent moved to states that neighbor Pennsylvania.

While many young adults moved out of rural Pennsylvania, older adults moved in. Between 1995 and 2000, Pennsylvania rural counties had an in-migration of 71,538 persons between the ages of 35 and 49 years old. These persons are “Baby Boomers” and were born between 1945 and 1964.

The largest percentage of these new rural residents (38 percent) came from a Pennsylvania urban county. As the second map illustrates, another 32 percent of these new residents came from states that neighbor Pennsylvania.

This data suggests that while young adults are moving out of the state, they do not move very far away and may one day return to rural Pennsylvania.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000