General Reports

CoBank Knowledge Exchange research reports focusing general topics relevant to rural America.

All Reports

Borrowed Time

Addressing Unsustainable Public Debt Levels – Before It’s Too Late

July 2024

While the problem of public debt is certainly not new, it has taken on heightened urgency over the last two years as the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, making federal borrowing much more expensive than it was previously.

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

December 2023

Despite multiple systemic shocks in recent years – COVID-19, trade conflict with China, the Russia-Ukraine war, surging inflation and interest rates – our economy has performed strongly.

Rural America

The Year Ahead: Opportunity for Rural America

June 2023

CoBank explores an opportunity for rural communities to attract new residents and achieve new growth.

2023 Year Ahead

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2023

December 2022

The Russia-Ukraine war, surging inflation, and an energy crisis joined the COVID-19 pandemic this year as major events defining the operating environment for U.S. companies. We can expect to feel the aftershocks in 2023. 

Demography and Destiny: Population Trends in Rural America

October 2022

A CoBank special report on the changing population trends in rural America.

Rural America

The Importance of Off-Farm Income to the Agricultural Economy

September 2022

CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division recently partnered with the University of Missouri to study the economic fabric that supports rural and agricultural communities. 

Food inflation in the US

Food Manufacturers’ Surprise Profitability Set to Continue, High Prices Will Test Consumers

February 2022

For the first time in perhaps decades, food inflation is garnering headlines and sending government policymakers scrambling for quick solutions.

2022 Year Ahead

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2022

December 2021

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is still in control of the economy.

U.S. Dollar

Dollar Divergence: US Dollar Index Does Not Reflect True Dollar Impact on US Ag Exports

February 2021

The U.S. Dollar Index saw rapid deflation in 2020 and has coincided with a rally in commodity prices. 

Year Ahead 2021

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2021

December 2020

The speed of the economic recovery will largely hinge on the availability, dissemination and reach of COVID-19 vaccines, pushing the expected burst of pent-up consumer demand into the latter half of 2021, according to a comprehensive year-ahead outlook report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division.

Rural America

COVID-19 Impact: Virus Blame Muddies China Trade

May 2020

CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division has just released its latest COVID-19 economic perspective by Dan Kowalski, vice president.

Rural America

COVID-19 Impact: Economic Forecasts Getting Grimmer

April 2020

Economic forecasts are getting grimmer as the COVID-19 pandemic grows.

Rural America

Agriculture Feels COVID-19’s Price Impacts

April 2020

COVID-19’s price impacts on agriculture are as serious as feared – ethanol, dairy, cotton, and the animal protein sectors are feeling the worst of the price pressures. Specialty crops are facing major revenue losses as they are mostly perishable and highly dependent on sales to food service and labor for harvest.

Rural America

What to Expect from COVID-19 and the Rural Economy

March 2020

The U.S. economy’s plunge from COVID-19 is unprecedented. Agriculture will be somewhat shielded — but not immune — from the extreme volatility, as transportation and labor are areas of concern.

Broken Levees, Saturated Soil Heighten Midwest Flooding Risk

March 2020

We’ve been taking stock of the Midwest’s recovery from the floods of 2019, which cost the region dearly. Delayed planting and harvest, loss of livestock, infrastructure damage, and other challenges have taken their toll.

What the Phase One Deal Means for US Agriculture

January 2020

What does the US-China Phase One deal mean for US agriculture? What's in it? What will the impacts be? How achievable are the provisions? CoBank's Dan Kowalski addresses these questions and more. 

The Year Ahead report cover

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2020

December 2019

The U.S. rural economy will continue to face headwinds in 2020 and is expected to underperform relative to the economy of urban America. 

Climate change

Rural Industries and Climate Change

November 2019

The impact of climate change and environmental regulation on the U.S. rural economy and how it affects the industries CoBank finances.

Rural America

Foreign Tariffs Are Falling on the US Farmer Not Importer

August 2019

Who pays the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports is shaped by a number of factors that affect bargaining power between exporters and importers, depending on the agricultural good being traded.


The Currency Shift that Really Matters to Agriculture

August 2019

Currencies have been all the buzz of late. China’s decision to reduce support for the yuan in early August sent markets into a tailspin and triggered some central banks in Asia and Oceania to cut interest rates. Markets and policy makers feared that a currency war was suddenly afoot, and China’s devaluation could stoke a destabilizing race to the bottom in global currencies and interest rates.

Grain bin

Co-op Consolidation

July 2019

Agricultural cooperatives have been in a steady state of consolidation for decades. But despite the decline in the number of cooperatives, the influence of co‑ops in rural America is not shrinking.


Blockchain in Agricultural Commodity Trading: Dream or Reality?

June 2019

Blockchain innovations in agriculture are numerous but have been slow to gain industry-wide acceptance, particularly in global agriculture commodity trading.

The Year Ahead report cover

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2019

January 2019

The U.S. economy is still performing well by most key measures. However, consumers, investors, companies and other market participants have become more wary about the near-term future with seemingly good reason. 


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