January’s Rural Mainstreet Index from Creighton University climbed to its highest level since June of 2018. It’s the fifth-straight month the reading has been above growth neutral in the survey of bank CEOs in a ten-state region that relies primarily on agriculture and/or energy. The overall index in January came in at 55.9, up from 50.2 in December. It’s the 11th time in the past 12 months that number has been above 50, which is growth neutral. “Only 17 percent of bank CEOs reported their local economy was in an economic downturn,” says Index chief Dr. Ernie Goss. “This is better than a year ago, when almost 23 percent of bank CEOs said their local economy was in a recession, or economic downturn.” Don Reynolds is chair of the Regional Missouri Bank, who says, “Farm incomes for 2019 and projections for 2020 aren’t as bleak as we expected.” The farmland and ranchland price index came in below growth- neutral for the 73rd time in the past 74 months. While December’s index was 52.8, January’s number fell to 45.6. “Two out of three Nebraska bankers say property taxes on farmland are a significant factor in reducing farm profitability,” Goss says.