According to a newly released study, farm life keeps getting better. A November survey of bankers in the Plains and Midwest points to increasing economic optimism as farm incomes rise and global demand for U.S. farmed goods grows.
Rising steadily for the past three months, the Rural Mainstreet Index, the region's economic confidence index, reached 53.3 in November, compared to 48.4 in October and 47.6 in September. The figure marked the highest point the Index has reached since May and was encouraging news for both farmers and economists: a year ago in November, it was only at 38.4. Moreover, the region's economic confidence index, which illustrates economic expectations for the next six months, climbed to 63.8 in November from 57.3 in October.
Creighton University economist, Ernie Gross, told ABC News that he expects "very healthy farm income to begin to have positive" effects on businesses. Gross asserts that businesses "heavily dependent on the farm economy continue to do quite well." Farmland prices and agricultural equipment sales are on the mend as well, both rising as the economy picks up.
Scott Tewksbury, chief executive of Heartland State Bank, believes that the farm economy is surging. Farmers, he says, are repaying their operating loans faster than they have in years because they are profiting from high commodity prices and increasing revenue. Perhaps it is time for farmers to get rid of their used tractors and invest in the newest John Deere equipment.