Rural states provided the backbone of Donald Trump's electoral college victory. And here in Minnesota, Trump's popularity in rural areas nearly put the state in the Republican column.
So as Trump moves into the White House Friday, what will it take to make rural America great again? Two words: higher prices.
For the last few years prices for crops like corn and soybeans have been so low farmers have trouble getting back the money they spent growing them. Now the drop in prices has spread to livestock, too.
A survey of rural bankers that came out Thursday called low commodity prices the biggest threat facing rural America right now.
Why are prices so low?
You might say farmers are suffering from too much success. Growing conditions have been great over the last couple of summers and that's led to bumper crops.
So now we've got more grain than we know what to do with. And – as the law of supply and demand tells us – when the bin is overflowing, prices go down.
And sometimes it leads to a downward spiral. A University of Wisconsin ag extension agent tells the Winona Daily News farmers are trying to make enough money from their crops to pay off their loans and “If it’s not worth anything, you have to make a lot of it.”
So the surplus is not going away. Even farmers who grow blueberries said this week the number of frozen berries in storage is nearly triple what it was a five years ago, keeping their prices down, too.
What would improve things?
While there's no silver bullet to raise commodity prices overnight, one thing that would help is a weaker dollar.
Steve Okonek, the ag agent who spoke to the Daily News, noted that right now most countries can't afford to buy much food from the U.S. because the strong dollar makes our commodities too expensive overseas.
Otherwise, experts are advising farmers to keep their costs down and try to weather the downturn – hoping commodity prices will bounce back early in the Trump administration.