The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index remained above growth-neutral in December. It’s the fourth-straight month that’s happened and the tenth time in the past 12 months.
The index is a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and/or energy. While it’s still above growth-neutral, the index did drop from 54.2 in November to 50.2 in December.
A Creighton University news release says, “Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices gave a boost to the Rural Mainstreet Index.” The index shows bank CEOs, on average, expect about 12 percent of grain farmers to experience financial losses in 2020. “However, this is down from last year at this time, when bankers expected about 15 percent of their grain farmers to have a negative cash flow during 2019,” says Dr. Ernie Goss of Creighton University.
For example, Jeff Bonnett is president of the Havana National Bank in Illinois, who says, “If grain prices remain where they are today, we will have a small percentage of borrowers who will struggle with their cashflow.” There was some good news as the farmland and ranchland price index soared to 52.8 from a weak 40.4 in November.