Economists: Second Recession Looming for Rural Communities

Wednesday, December 2nd 2009, 5:11 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Economists are predicting rural communities will take another dip into recession. Now Oklahoma farmers are bracing for a second slow down.

It's been a tough year for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. They're cutting back and tightening budgets just like everyone else. And it looks like they're going to have to even more.

The grain is flowing but not as freely as it used to at the Stillwater Mill Company. The mill's owner has seen firsthand how the economy has hit rural Oklahoma. When grain and feed prices went up and cattle prices went down farmers were forced to cut back.

"They're just hanging on, not buying anything," said Stillwater Mill Co. Owner Alice Fowler. "They don't have to buy and they are being very cautious about their expenditures."

The same is true for big ticket items. Instead of rolling out new equipment farmers are holding on to what they already have.

An Oklahoma State University agricultural economist advises them to hold off even longer.

"It looks like there's going to be some belt tightening in the coming months," OSU Agricultural Economist Dr. Larry Sanders said.

Sanders has seen the second dip into the recession coming for a while.

"Natural gas and agriculture have seen better days and have a tough year ahead in pricing and that has a ripple effect," Sanders said.

While the rural economic outlook doesn't look bright the owner of the Stillwater Mill Company says her customers have already learned a lesson in conservation and will be better prepared this time around.

"Yes, we are concerned, but everyone is aware so everyone will be more cautious," Fowler said.

The silver lining in this is a weak U.S. dollar is drawing foreign customers to buy cattle and wheat.