Rural economy improves, farm equipment sales lag

Farm equipment sales continue to trail rural economic improvement.
Farm equipment sales continue to trail rural economic improvement.
Despite overall gains made in the rural economy, a recent report shows that sales of farm equipment continue to falter.

Creighton University's Rural Mainstreet Index made a leap in March, rising from 36.6 to 47.4. A number above 50 on the index indicates growth in the rural economy.

Ernie Goss, who created the survey in 2005, said that farming and ranching economies are improving as the RMI has continued to increase over the last few months.

"Even so, economic conditions are weaker in the rural areas than in the urban areas of the region as the softer 2009 farm economy continues to work through Rural Mainstreet businesses in the region," Goss said.

Though the RMI went up, an index that tracks farm-equipment sales dropped from 42.4 to 41.4 between February and March. Goss said he expected purchases to increase in the coming months as the rural economy continues to improve.

What could help, at least in the long term, is an initiative from the Obama administration regarding U.S. exports. The president said he wants to double the amount of exported goods in the next five years.