The recent Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index is showing rural economy is strength for the 10th consecutive month. The index uses 50 points as a neutral growth indicator and for September that number was 62.5. The biggest contributor to that strength indicator is the price of land which has been above 70 for the past 12 months. Ten states have indexes above 70 this month, led by Colorado with their land price index of 88.3 being the highest. Wisconsin is not listed in that top 10.
Another barometer of farmers’ situations is the DTN/Progressive Farmer Confidence Index. That latest poll is up to almost 117 points — more than 22 points higher than a year ago but slightly lower than this past spring. According to the poll that’s because farmers said they are concerned about keeping costs in line with static profits. About half the farmers surveyed said they expect input costs for items like fertilizer are going up faster than the price for their production. But farmers also said they are optimistic that China will continue to be a big buyer of U.S. farm products and that our economy will get stronger once the Covid-19 pandemic gets under control.
Our court system can move slowly and that’s the case in an antitrust case filed by cattle producers two years ago against the country’s four largest meat packers. After studying the case for that long, a federal court in Minnesota has ruled against those packers who wanted the case against them for alleged price fixing thrown out. That decision means the case can continue in the courts. R-CALF USA filed the lawsuit claiming the packers depressed prices to cattle producers while increasing the price of beef for consumers — violating the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Packers and Stockyards Act. A date hasn’t been set for more court action.
There’s about a week left to nominate a farmer for the 2022 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer Award. That deadline is Sept. 30 with the winners selected next January during the OYF weekend in Neenah. Nominees must be under 40 and get at least two thirds of their income from farming. In the 68-year history of the program, 19 of Wisconsin’s OYF winners have gone on to also become National OYF winners.