Monthly Rural Monitor Shows Continued Weakness

The Rural Mainstreet Index shows continued weakness according to the latest report by Creighton University. Last week, organizers said the index rose slightly in March but continue to show a contracting rural economy. The index for March was announced at 40.2, compared to last month’s 37.0. A number below 50 suggests contraction.

Organizers say recent declines are the result of lower agriculture and energy commodity prices and downturns in manufacturing. The farmland and ranchland-price index for March tumbled to 20.2 from February’s 29.8. This is the 28th straight month the index has moved below growth neutral. The March farm equipment-sales index sank to a record low of 6.7 from February’s 11.3. The report points to weakness in farm income that continues to pressure the sale of agriculture equipment across the Midwest region.