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CoBank Year-Ahead Report: Forces Shaping U.S. Rural Economy
USAgNet - 12/13/2019

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 a 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.

"Most current signals indicate the overall domestic economy is on firm footing, thanks almost exclusively to the consumer," said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank's Knowledge Exchange division. "However, without a meaningful U.S.-China trade deal, the U.S. agricultural economy will continue to struggle with uncertainty in 2020."

The CoBank 2020 outlook report examines 10 key factors that will shape agriculture and market sectors that serve and impact rural communities throughout the U.S.

The full report, "2020 The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy" is available at

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