OMAHA, Neb. | The economy remains strong in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but some of the bankers interviewed this month said they were concerned about the impact of inflation on farmers.
The overall index for the region slipped from 67.7 in November, but Thursday’s report said the index remained firmly in positive territory at 66.7 for December. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the region continues to benefit from low interest rates and strong exports. The USDA estimates that agricultural exports have increased by 23% compared to last year.
But continued high inflation is a concern, as the cost of land and the price of supplies farmers need are expected to continue to rise next year.
“Inflation is real and affecting people in our service area,” said Jeff Bonnett, CEO of Havana State Bank in Havana, Illinois.
Still, bank CEOs are optimistic for the next six months. The survey’s confidence index rose to 55.2 in December from November’s low of 48.4.
Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were interviewed.