For the first time in more than two years, the overall index for the Rural Mainstreet economy was above growth neutral 50.0 for 2 consecutive months, according to Creighton Univ.’s latest surveys of bank CEOs in a 10-state region.

The survey also revealed that the farm and ranch land index expanded above growth neutral for fifth straight month, and farm equipment sales also improved for a third consecutive month.

The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), which ranges between 0 and 100, dipped to 52.6 for June from May’s 54.3. “After 26 consecutive months of below growth neutral readings, the overall index has now moved above growth neutral for two consecutive months,” said Ernie Goss and Bill McQuillan, CEO of CNB Community Bank of Greeley, Neb., who created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

The farmland-price index moved above growth neutral for a fifth straight month to 54.7 from May’s 52.7. “Even as the rising value of the dollar has put downward pressures on estimated 2010 farm income, farmland prices are being bid up significantly in the region,” said Goss.

The farm equipment-sales index expanded to 53.1 from May’s 50.9. “In addition to an expanding rural economy, we are tracking significant improvements in farm and ranch land prices and farm equipment sales. I expect both of these factors to remain healthy in the months ahead,” said Goss.

The table below summarizes findings from the Creighton Univ.’s June survey with an index above 50.0 indicating growth and an index below 50.0 signifying weakness.

The Rural Mainstreet Economy