Annual 'Best Places to Live in Rural America' Rankings Released

The Progressive Farmer magazine crowns Maryland's Kent County and nine

other best rural places to live based on their ability to thrive-even

during struggles-among other quality-of-life statistics.

Rankings are further indication of growing interest in rural living in


Feb 04, 2008, 00:00 ET from The Progressive Farmer

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Kent County, Maryland, was
 awarded top honors in the fourth annual edition of the "Best Places to Live
 in Rural America" rankings by The Progressive Farmer magazine, released
 today. Each year, the rankings name the top 10 rural counties in the
 nation, according to several quality-of-life indicators and statistics; all
 10 counties are profiled in the February 2008 issue of The Progressive
 Farmer, and the top 500 rural counties are listed on the magazine's web
 site (
     The top 10 rural counties are ranked based on rural quality-of-life
 indicators such as great schools, access to health care, low crime and
 affordable farmland. In 2008, the editors of The Progressive Farmer added
 extra criteria by focusing on counties that have been able to protect
 farmland, control growth pressure from urban and suburban areas, and strike
 a good balance between agriculture, manufacturing and modern conveniences.
 For instance, No. 1 Kent County has doggedly maintained its rural heritage
 by preserving farmland, says Senior Editor Jamie Cole. "They have
 determined there that the best use of their land is for farming. The level
 of commitment to that idea is extraordinary.
     "This year, we wanted to celebrate the people that make the places
 special," says Cole. "We want to show what they're doing to keep their
 rural counties rural. We hope other places-small towns, counties, rural
 areas-that face these same challenges can find ideas through our list."
     Debuting this year is the "Reader's Choice Award," where any of our
 nation's 2,000-plus rural counties can solicit the most votes and win this
 reader-driven distinction, which will be announced in August 2008. Voting
 on opens Feb. 1 and runs through May 31.
 Web visitors can vote once a day and will be able to see real-time results.
     "This is one of the most exciting additions this year," Cole adds. "Our
 editorial staff is always inundated with e-mails and calls from readers
 suggesting their county is the 'best place.' Now communities can prove it
 by rallying together, showing their spirit and pride to elect their county
 as our 'Reader's Choice' winner."
     The Top 10 List of "Best Places to Live in Rural America"
     1. Kent County, Md., was selected as the best place to live in rural
 America this year. The county of 20,000 residents was chosen in part
 because of its commitment to preserving the county's rural roots, despite
 being within driving distance to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and
 Philadelphia. A testament to this long-term planning is the stately
 farmhouses-many dating pre-Civil War-that dot the countryside and the
 average local who can trace his or her ancestry to the Revolutionary War.
 Many local farmers have sold development rights of their land to the state
 to keep sprawl at bay.
     In order, the other counties selected among the top 10 "Best Places to
 Live in Rural America" are:
     2. Ellis County, Kan. -- Located between Kansas City and Denver, this
 county is known for its frontier spirit, with agriculture and oil
 sustaining its economy. Like many agricultural areas, Ellis County saw hard
 times in the 1980s, but has since revitalized the area by forming a
 coalition to ensure economic vitality.
     3. Livingston County, Mo. -- In the heart of this top-ranked county is
 Chillicothe, an inventive and industrious town known as the "Home of Sliced
 Bread." This can-do attitude extends past the town's city limits and can be
 seen through a regional marketing plan that attracted employers and
 residents to the county through services that make the area more livable as
 a whole.
     4. Obion County, Tenn. -- This sprawling rural county is a place where
 agriculture and industry go hand in hand, forming a strong economy despite
 little or no population growth. The county also features great schools,
 great farmland and legendary wildlife populations.
     5. Columbia County, Penn. -- Located near New York, New Jersey and
 Philadelphia, Columbia County is certainly facing development pressures.
 But conservation easements and agricultural security areas are helping
 preserve farming for future generations.
     6. Wexford County, Mich. -- Set amid rolling meadows and thick forests,
 this county and its habitants are adaptable, migrating their industry from
 primarily lumber and small farms to Christmas tree production and tourism.
 It's this adaptability that has helped Wexford County flourish over the
     7. Fayette County, Texas -- Fayette County is prime cattle country,
 ranking as the top in the state for beef cow numbers and herds. Winters are
 mild, and blankets of wildflowers cover the fields and hills in the spring.
     8. Coffee County, Ala. -- If overcoming challenges is a criterion for
 our list this year, this top 10 county has certainly done that. In fact, a
 statue of a woman holding a boll weevil sits squarely downtown as a tribute
 to the insect that forced Coffee County to become economically diversified.
 The town is also recovering and rebuilding from a destructive tornado that
 hit a year ago, but will keep on thriving, thanks to a tight-knit
     9. Gilchrist County, Fla. -- Urban development is fast approaching this
 scenic and wildlife-rich county, which shares a boundary with the county
 housing the University of Florida. However, Gilchrist County is trying to
 protect its rural areas with acre requirements for homesites.
     10. La Plata County, Co. -- Gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife, a
 booming economy and friendly, welcoming locals would put this county on
 anyone's top 10 list. It made our list in part due to its alliance for
 educating locals on how to buy locally grown food and its work on zoning
     In addition to the new Reader's Choice Award, The Progressive Farmer
 web site ( also features commenting. This
 allows visitors to post their thoughts and personal stories on the 500
 counties making the complete list. Also featured is the ever-popular "Find
 Your OWN Best Place," which allows web visitors to create a list of
 preferred locales based on personal preferences such as climate and
 recreational amenities. Plus, through a partnership with United Country
 Real Estate, users can search for homes and farms available for sale in
 counties on the list.
     About The Progressive Farmer magazine and web site
     Living the good life in the country is a passion for 40 million-plus
 landowners who take great pride in their land, farm and family. That's why
 The Progressive Farmer ( largest
 magazine and web site for landowners and farmers-publishes practical,
 useful information to help our 3.7 million readers get MORE from their life
 on the land.
     The Progressive Farmer, now owned by real-time market information
 services leader DTN, is available by subscription only and can be ordered
 by calling 1-800-292-2340 or visiting
     About DTN
     DTN, a private company based in Omaha, Neb., is the leading
 business-to- business provider of real-time market, news and weather
 information services to agriculture, energy trading markets and other
 weather-sensitive industries. The company delivers on-demand market
 information, commodity cash prices, industry news and in-depth analysis,
 and location-specific weather to more than 120,000 subscribers through DTN
 for agriculture, refined fuels and trading markets, and DTN/Meteorlogix.
 More information can be found at

SOURCE The Progressive Farmer