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Rural Nebraskans Notably Less Trusting Than City Dwellers of Public Institutions, Media, Health Experts

Rural folk are a suspicious lot… or so one may conclude from the 2021 Nebraska Rural and Metro Polls. According to data gathered by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics, rural Nebraskans are generally less likely to say they strongly trust public officials, media, and medical experts than are their metro neighbors in the Omaha and Lincoln metroplex:

Rebecca Vogt et al., Nebraska Rural Poll Research Brief: "Trust in Media, Institutions and Health Information for Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Nebraskans," released 2021.11.04.
Percentage of metro vs. rural Nebraskans expressing “a great deal” of trust in public institutions, in Rebecca Vogt et al., Nebraska Rural Poll Research Brief: “Trust in Media, Institutions and Health Information for Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Nebraskans,” released 2021.11.04.
Rebecca Vogt et al., Nebraska Rural Poll Research Brief: "Trust in Media, Institutions and Health Information for Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Nebraskans," released 2021.11.04.
Percentage of metro vs. rural Nebraskans expressing “a lot” of trust in media, in Vogt et al., 2021.11.04.
Rebecca Vogt et al., Nebraska Rural Poll Research Brief: "Trust in Media, Institutions and Health Information for Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Nebraskans," released 2021.11.04.
Percentage of metro vs. rural Nebraskans expressing “a lot” of trust in sources of health information, in Vogt et al., 2021.11.04.

The low rural trust of elections may reflect the rural anxiety of living in an ever dwindling minority that by itself cannot win a state or national election.

The low rural trust in all sources of health information may figure in the higher rural mortality rates from coronavirus and other afflictions.

I suppose we could look at the line in the media block and take comfort in knowing that rural folks still trust their neighbors a little more than do their urban counterparts as sources of news… but if you’re studying up on national and international news, should you really rely Erma down the road more than news news programs on NPR?

But hey, at least city and country folk are equally sensible in being suspicious of what they read on the Twitters and the blogs….


  1. John 2021-11-05 07:49

    But . . . they got their “freedom!” The culture cousins of the rural Nebraskans passed a law decriminalizing the consumption of raw milk in West Virginia.
    Republican law makers celebrated with glasses of raw milk – and promptly became sicker than crap.
    The dairy industry AND the big bad gubermint FDA said ‘don’t do that’ . . . but nothing stood in the way, no science, no law, stood in the way of the morons getting their ‘freedom!.

    How do these morons get out of high school?!

  2. larry kurtz 2021-11-05 07:59

    Nebraska is a superlative media resource even reaching people without access to the internet. Some of the best broadcasts are in the panhandle where Nebraska Public Media, the translator for Bill Janklow’s idea of public radio, Wyoming Public Radio and Community Radio for Northern Colorado permeate the air waves even as christian radio tries to push them out of the way.

    Few should be surprised much of rural white America is a backwater for intellectual development: the same is true here in New Mexico and in Wyoming and Montana where public media just can’t penetrate the wall of schlock erected by unvaccinated white christian Republicans who want to blow it all up and let a supernatural extraterrestrial lord over all things.

  3. John 2021-11-05 08:14

    The future is closing even faster for the 18th century rural dwellers. Precision fermentation will dominate the food industry in 10-15 years. The dairy industry will collapse without any challenges from consumers since 60% of dairy sales are business – to – business. The precision fermentation milk goes into other products (chocolate, power shakes, sauces, etc.). Instead of fermenting in the stomach of a dairy cow to process plant material (largely corn), precision fermentation processes in a vat. This eliminates the need for vast acreages for feed, fertilizer and weed killer, manure, and CAFOs.

    Precision fermentation will also replace the present meat / protein industry. This will yield many of the same benefits freeing up millions of acres used for animal feed crops, reducing animal manure, and CAFOs.

    It’s inevitable. Even meat packing companies are rebranding themselves as ‘protein companies’.

  4. Richard Schriever 2021-11-05 12:32

    Whenever I’ve been working out in that desolate part of thec ountry (Eastern CO, Western NE, Western KS, Western SD, Western ND, Eastern WY, Eastern MT, I turn my radio to the either the Prairie Public network that operates across much of it, SDPB, or some of the tribal-based stations. There are good sources out there, if you listen for them. I’m “out there” about 5-6 months of the year.

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-11-05 12:50

    Thanks for the links to Upside and Food Navigator.
    I joined their newsletter group.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-05 12:58

    So John, what happens to rural America? Does it just evaporate like Mars’s atmosphere, lacking the gravity to hold it in place?

    Does rural Nebraska have less trust in the various institutions and experts listed because those objects of trust seem more remote to rural folks? Could we reverse this poll and ask urban folks how much they trust farmers and agribusiness?

  7. Porter Lansing 2021-11-05 13:05

    City people are more trusting because they have more exposure to diverse people and situations.

    It’s the lack of personal experiences that creates fear and distrust.

    Reading about BIPOC isn’t the same as standing in line next to people who are and think differently.

    PS … Nebraska needs a “FREE PRESS” online, like that French teacher from Madison puts out.

  8. mike from iowa 2021-11-05 13:48

    Rurales trust Fake Noize, but not doctors? Propaganda programs have really worked well outside the cities.

  9. larry kurtz 2021-11-05 13:48

    Should rewilding efforts seek to restore sustainable wild lands to Pleistocene Era conditions or let the Anthropocene lay waste desertifying precious resources changing the landscape forever leaving survivors to cleave out habitable zones forsaking native species?

    The relatively small distance between the Canadian River in New Mexico and the Missouri at Fort Peck reminds me again how the earliest humans in North America thwarted by glaciers, the dire wolf, and Smilodon on everything north of the Sangre de Cristos terminating at Santa Fe, blazed the Pecos Trail from west to east into the southern Great Plains and Mississippi Valley to find an inland paradise teeming with prey.

    Northern Colorado has just added a bison herd. The Oglala, Pawnee and Comanche National Grasslands are not far away. The Thunder Basin National Grassland in Wyoming is managed by offices in Colorado. The Fort Pierre National Grassland in South Dakota is managed from Nebraska. It merely takes the political will to build corridors for bison, other ungulates and their associated predators over public and leased private land into the Oglala National Grassland in Nebraska, Wyoming’s Thunder Basin National Grassland to North and South Dakota then to the Northern Cheyenne, Crow and Fort Peck nations in Montana.

    The South Dakota Democratic Party should advocate for paying the tribes and settling the Black Hills Claim, dissolving the Black Hills National Forest, moving management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

    Rewild it and rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Canadian River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

  10. John 2021-11-05 16:51

    Cory, Larry’s on it – the long term vision.
    But the near and mid-term vision means we must take care of folks, displaced folks, but not prop-up legacy industries. The instability (social, economic) will be tremendous as the legacy interests fight to retain their 18th and 19th century horse-and-buggy, blacksmith like industries, business models, and ways (see our part time governor).
    See my earlier email, begin at 7:25: The Q&A is rural helpful.

    The technological transformation of the next 10-15 years will make us or break us. Certainly the vision-less politicians in South Dakota are unarmed and unready for it. When “packer” Tyson rebrands as a protein company . . . Sioux City, Sioux Falls, northeast IA, et al. will change because precision fermentation rides down the cost curve verses 18th century agriculture.

    A utility in southern Australia met its electricity demand using solar and wind generation. We are seeing the end of the fossil fuel era every much as when British economist Jevons predicted in “The Coal Question” in 1865 that England would hit peak coal in 1913. It did. The Brits swirled the drain since.

  11. Mark Anderson 2021-11-05 17:40

    Well Cory, our ancestors in North Dakota set up the first socialist state in the world, now that was short-lived. Don’t see that happening soon. Now their all freedom loving “individuals”. Soon enough they’ll all be working for the man.

  12. Donald Pay 2021-11-06 09:39

    I have to say, I don’t have a lot of trust in institutions. Never have, never will.

    We’ve seen that it took a very short time, just 4 years, for Trump to corrupt and nearly destroy the US system of government. Trump figured out what I already knew: our institutions are weak and susceptible to corruption.

    Look at South Dakota government. It’s in complete shambles. The Governor and Attorney General are national jokes. South Dakota government wouldn’t work without massive federal subsidies. No one trusts the Pierre clown cabal. No one is surprised anymore at the next scandal. Wait a few months and another scandal will come along.

    Look at the descent of Rapid City’s schools into covid, mediocrity and mendacity. A sad ending to a formerly great school system.

    I have some faith that people will eventually tire of the corruption and lies, but I’ve been waiting my whole adult lifetime for that.

  13. Porter Lansing 2021-11-06 12:19

    Trust But Verify
    Not trusting government is not trusting your friends and neighbors.
    Nothing happens until we trust that things will be better, with honest effort.
    For Perspective:
    Nebraska has a million more people than South Dakota
    Iowa has twice as many people as Nebraska

  14. Donald Pay 2021-11-06 13:25

    Agree, Porter. I have always trusted in peoples’ ability to make change for the better. Sometimes you still can do that.

  15. Dave 2021-11-07 06:36

    John: How do these morons get out of high school?!
    They attend The Sunshine Bible Academy in this state.

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