While this session focuses on the persistence of poverty in the rural South, my paper looks beyond how the research community can be effective in dealing with poverty to how we might better approach rural development. Persistent poverty is clearly a major element of the development dilemma, but the solution to poverty cannot come through transfer programs that support the poor, although they may play a role. It can only come from a broad development initiative that changes the environment in which the rural poor live and provides them with the opportunity to participate in the economy. This is a large task, and it is not one that we should believe will be easily or rapidly accomplished. But despite the odds we have an obligation to society to identify a role for social science research in the process and to carry out that role to the best of our ability.