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Rural Mainstreet Economy sees another slump

A monthly survey of rural bankers in the Midwest suggests farm incomes could trend lower in 2024.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the December Rural Mainstreet Index sank below growth neutral for a fourth straight month and more than half of bank CEOs expect a recession in the coming year.

“The overall index, certainly for the businesses on Main Street, is not doing well,” he said. “There are a lot of issues there, but also the farm economy is slowing down with lower agricultural commodity prices.”

The Rural Mainstreet Index is a survey of ag bankers in 10 states including: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Goss tells Brownfield the December report showed an increase in producer confidence despite some ongoing issues.

“Agricultural exports are down fairly significantly compared to this time last year,” he said. “There are the other concerns. Of course, the normal one of drought conditions, but now we’ve got shipping issues in terms of the Red Sea and other issues regarding the global economy.”

But he says most farmers are coming off consecutive years of favorable economic conditions and should be in a good position to weather the storm.

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