Rural Mainstreet Economy Begins Third Quarter on Healthy Note

After declining below growth neutral in March, the overall Rural Mainstreet Index for July expanded above the threshold for a fourth straight month, according to the July monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.

Overall: The region’s overall reading in July slipped to 55.6 from June’s 56.9. The index ranges between 0 and 100, with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

July 2023 Survey Results at a Glance:

  • July’s overall reading, the Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), rose above growth neutral for a fourth straight month. 
  • Farmland prices expanded for the 34th straight month.
  • On average, non-farm investors secured approximately 17.1% of farmland sales in the region, up from 9.1% reported by bankers in April 2022.
  • More than nine of ten, or 92.5%, indicated that the Fed should cease raising rates.

“After negative growth during the first quarter of this year, the Rural Mainstreet economy experienced positive but slow economic growth for the second quarter and has now started the third quarter on a healthy note,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

Farm equipment sales: The farm equipment-sales index for July stood at a tepid 50.0, which was up from 48.3 in June. “Higher borrowing costs have begun to negatively impact purchases of farm equipment,” said Goss.

Farming and ranching land prices: The region’s farmland price index rose to 64.6 from 59.3 in June and 56.3 in May. This was the 34th straight month the index has advanced above 50.0. 

Bankers reported, on average, non-farm investors secured approximately 17.1% of farmland sales in their area over the past six months. This is almost double the 9.1% reported by bankers in April 2022 when the same question was asked. 

Source: Mainstreet Economy (