Survey suggests trade deal signings buoyed bankers’ hopes

Corn is seen in a field. FILE

OMAHA, Neb. — A new survey of bankers in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states suggests they’re optimistic about the economy over the next few months, thanks to the signings of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and the China trade agreement.

The finding was one of several in the latest Rural Mainstreet Survey. The overall index for February declined to 51.6 from 55.9 in January. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy, organizers say.

“Due to weak farm income, 40.6% of bankers reported that their banks had restructured loans while only 3.1% indicated that their banks had rejected a higher percentage of farmland loans,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.

The survey’s confidence index increased to a healthy 58.1 from January’s weak 50.0, the survey report said.

“The signing of the Phase 1 trade agreement with China and the USMCA boosted economic confidence across the region with expectations of higher international agriculture sales,” Goss said.