Despite some hits, ag retail economy is remaining strong

The U.S. ag industry is coming off a few good years, and that is putting strain on the ag retail economy. Despite the struggles, economists say it is still in good shape.

“It’s a snapshot in time, and so what I tell you today may be different tomorrow, but we’re coming off a couple of pretty good years in 22 and 23. 24 is a little more difficult because we’ve had some destocking situations in the chemical business. I think that’s hit the suppliers harder than it’s hit the retailers. But the concern now is that as people have maybe some overpriced inventory still left in the warehouse, or you look at commodity prices moderating from where they were, and yet the prices that we need to pay for the inputs that they need to grow those crops haven’t changed that much in every case. So I think the takeaway is it’s going to be a trickier year in 24, a little little tighter. But still, I think we’re in good shape, and the members we have are on top of it. I mean, managing this kind of risk is what they do,” said Daren Coppock, President and CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association.

When it comes to the overall rural economy, new numbers show it could be slipping. The latest Rural Mainstreet Index has fallen below growth neutral yet again, marking the 10th straight month of declines. Economists say ag and energy economies are slowing, and recent talks of tariffs and trade restrictions are not helping.