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Ag Banking/Rural America

Rural Economic Trend Is Positive, but Weak Farm Income Hurts

April 20 — The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index slipped in April, but remained above growth neutral for a third straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy. This is the first time since the middle of 2015 that the survey has recorded three straight months of overall indices above growth neutral.

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Farm Loans Near Record Highs

April 10 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency has announced a year of high activity in its farm loan programs. The agency issued almost $6 billion in new credit, either directly or guaranteed through commercial lenders in 2017. The FSA was also assisting more than 120,000 farmers with loans totaling over $25 billion.

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USDA, SBA Announce Joint Effort to Boost Rural Economies

April 6 — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, and Administrator Linda McMahon, head of the Small Business Administration, signed a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the SBA to promote stronger businesses and agricultural economies in rural America. The memorandum was signed in Lima, Ohio, were McMahon joined Perdue for a portion of the latter’s “Back to Our Roots” RV tour.

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Small Business Lending Expands for Fifth Consecutive Month

April 5 — According to the latest Strategic Insights Report from Chicago-based PayNet, small business lending improved again in February. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet “Small Business Lending Index” rose to 144.8, the second-highest number in the history of the index. This is the fifth consecutive month of increased lending activity. The SBLI three-month moving average also rose and is now nearly 10 percent above it’s level one year ago.

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Trade Concerns Drive Decline in Ag Export Sentiment

April 3 — Purdue University and CME’s “Group Ag Economy Barometer” fell to 135 in March, down from 140 in February. The decline seems to be largely due to uncertainty surrounding trade relations the their possible implications for U.S. ag exports.

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