Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. RMI is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy.

Colorado: For a sixth straight month, Colorado’s RMI moved above 50.0, rocketing to 75.2 in March from February’s 61.1. The FRI and ranchland price index (RPI) expanded to 71.2 from February’s 70.2. Colorado’s NHI for March expanded to 67.8 from 54.6 in February.

Illinois: RMI in March remained above growth neutral for the sixth consecutive month, but declined to 56.9 from February’s 61.4. FPI declined to 68.1 from February’s 71.2, and NHI increased to 57.1 from last month’s 55.3. In contrast, Jim Eckert, president of Anchor State Bank in Anchor, says, “Area small towns are in decline and small businesses are not doing well. Reduction of hours at rural post offices has affected the ability to do business and caused additional declines in customer traffic.”

Iowa: March RMI moved to 65.2 from February’s 59.8, while FPI declined to 66.7 from 70.4 in February. NHI for March improved to 61.3 from February’s 54.7.

Kansas: RMI for March rose to 52.8 from 47.2 in February. FPI climbed to 69.1 from February’s 60.0, and the state’s NHI expanded to 57.8 from 47.8 in February.  

Minnesota: March RMI fell to a strong 66.8 from February’s 73.4, while FPI sank to 72.1 from February’s 83.3, and NHI fell to 59.8 from February’s 63.3.

Missouri: March RMI shrunk to 56.3 from February’s 64.5, while FPI climbed to 74.1 from February’s 67.5, and NHI soared to 61.1 from 52.8 in February.

Nebraska: After moving below growth neutral for January, Nebraska’s RMI broke above growth neutral for two straight months, with March RMI expanding to 54.9 from February’s 52.7. FPI advanced to 65.4 from 60.7 in February, and NHI increased to 58.0 from February’s weak 48.3.Bill McQuillan, president of CNB Community Bank of Greeley, says, “Our pastures were 75% moisture-deficient from our average rainfall during 2012 because of the drought. We will need at least 20 in. of rain this year before we will be able to utilize our livestock pastures.”

North Dakota: March RMI fell to 61.2 from February’s regional high of 78.9. FPI declined to a robust 79.8 from 86.4 in February, and NHI decreased to 63.4 from 75.1 in February. 

South Dakota: March RMI improved to 58.8 from February’s 54.1, while FPI fell to 62.4 from 65.0 in February, and NHI for March advanced to 58.4 from 51.1 in February.

Wyoming: March RMI declined to 52.8 from 54.1 in February, while FPI and RPI decreased to 61.8 from 64.6 in February. NHI climbed above growth neutral with a March reading of 53.9, which was up from February’s 51.9.


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