“Higher for Longer” a Drag on Rural Economy

Brian Cavey , Tanner Ehmke , Rob Fox , Corey Geiger , Jeff Johnston , Christina Pope , Billy Roberts and Teri Viswanath

October 11, 2023

The Fed’s battle against inflation amid a resilient U.S. economy has led to the highest interest rate environment since 2007 along with a surging U.S. dollar. That is hurting key segments of the rural economy.

The Fed’s relentless 20-month attack on inflation has pushed long-term interest rates to their highest levels in years. The combination of high interest rates and a healthier than expected U.S. economy has kept the dollar much stronger than anyone would have expected. The one-two punch of high borrowing costs and the strong dollar, which hurts our export competitiveness, have combined to take a disproportionate toll on rural industries like agriculture, forest products, mining and manufacturing.

Congress surprisingly averted a federal shutdown on Sept. 30 by passing a 45-day continuing resolution, but the battle in the House is just getting started. That means farm bill negotiations will take a back seat while Congress struggles to pass its annual appropriations bills. The most likely outcome is an agreement by year-end to extend the current bill by a few months or up to a year or more.

Prices across the grain complex have been trending downward all year as the market has adjusted to lost Ukrainian exports. Though the broader basket of commodities has generally struggled this year, oil is the major exception: OPEC+ producers, notably Saudi Arabia, along with Russia are tightening supplies at the same time global consumption is finally returning to its pre-pandemic highs.

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In this issue

  • Spotlight
  • Macroeconomic Outlook
  • Grains
  • Farm Supply
  • Biofuels
  • Animal Protein
  • Dairy
  • Cotton, Rice and Sugar
  • Specialty Crops
  • Food and Beverage
  • Power, Energy and Water
  • Communications

Disclaimer: The information provided in this report is not intended to be investment, tax, or legal advice and should not be relied upon by recipients for such purposes. The information contained in this report has been compiled from what CoBank regards as reliable sources. However, CoBank does not make any representation or warranty regarding the content, and disclaims any responsibility for the information, materials, third-party opinions, and data included in this report. In no event will CoBank be liable for any decision made or actions taken by any person or persons relying on the information contained in this report.


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