The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2020
By Brian Cavey , Tanner Ehmke , Thomas Halverson , Jeff Johnston , Dan Kowalski and Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg
December 12, 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. Since 2014, GDP growth in rural counties has averaged almost 1% less than in urban counties. That trend is likely to continue without a significant upswing in agricultural commodity prices, energy exploration, rural manufacturing and other industries upon which rural economic growth depend.
Despite that bearish prognosis, there is room for optimism, according to the comprehensive 2020 outlook report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division. The U.S. farm economy has demonstrated its resiliency in the face of trade wars, extreme weather and other disruptive events. While the downside impact of trade disputes and tariffs will remain severe for many, some agriculture sectors will see stronger exports and higher prices. Rising animal protein and dairy exports will be a bright spot for producers in 2020.
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