The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

By Brian Cavey , Brian Earnest , Tanner Ehmke , Rob Fox , Corey Geiger , Thomas Halverson , Jeff Johnston , Christina Pope , Billy Roberts and Teri Viswanath

December 14, 2023

The U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations despite a string of adversity – the pandemic, rampant inflation, and the Federal Reserve’s extreme monetary tightening policies. The strength of the job market plus big infrastructure investments should spur ongoing economic growth in rural America. However, potential pitfalls are on the horizon: Congress continues to delay progress on the Farm Bill and trade policy while consumers are irrationally pessimistic about the future. After a two-year stretch of record profitability, the farm economy is headed toward transition in 2024: Commodity prices have slid closer to historic norms but farming expenses have not. However, global and domestic food supplies are still relatively tight, which should keep farm incomes from falling too far.


Responsive Image

Grain, Farm Supply, Biofuels

Rise of renewable diesel to pull more acres to soybeans in 2024

Responsive Image

Animal Protein

Inputs remain challenging, tempering output growth potential

Responsive Image


Dairy category will continue to grow, but exports a wild card

Responsive Image

Food and Beverage

Consumers seek value but want sustainability, innovation and convenience

And also

  • The Global Economy: Global growth rates will fall in the era of deglobalization
  • The U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy: Economic theory doesn’t care about your feelings… but should it?
  • U.S. Government: Vital funding bills await dysfunctional Congress in 2024
  • U.S. Agricultural Economy: High costs spell lackluster profitability for farm incomes
  • Power and Energy: Geopolitical discord underscores need for energy security in 2024
  • Communications: Broadband not immune to macro issues despite strong industry tailwinds

Read the Report


Disclaimer: The information provided in this report is not intended to be investment, tax, or legal advice and should not be relied upon by recipients for such purposes. The information contained in this report has been compiled from what CoBank regards as reliable sources. However, CoBank does not make any representation or warranty regarding the content, and disclaims any responsibility for the information, materials, third-party opinions, and data included in this report. In no event will CoBank be liable for any decision made or actions taken by any person or persons relying on the information contained in this report.


Stay ahead of the game in your field. Subscribe today.

Get CoBank's industry-leading Knowledge Exchange research reports delivered straight to your inbox as soon as they're released.

Have a comment or question about these reports?

Contact CoBank's Knowledge Exchange team to ask questions, engage with analysts or receive additional information.