- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Bankers across Middle America say depressed farm commodity prices are the biggest threat to the economy this year in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states.

The overall economic index in a monthly survey of bankers for the region remained in negative territory at 42.8 in January, down slightly from December’s 42.9. Survey officials say any score below 50 suggests an economic decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says livestock commodity prices have tumbled by 7.3 percent and grain commodity prices by 11.7 percent in the last year.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

Goss says the rural economy is improving in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota, while all the other states are trending lower.

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