Scot Chisholm developed what was to become Classy, a peer-to-peer crowd funding software platform. In 2020, Classy merged with GoFundMe, and Chisholm stepped down from his role as CEO to become a strategic advisor for the company. Since Chisholm has gained most of his CEO start-up experience through trial and error, he plans to pass on his knowledge  to other budding entrepreneurs.

An increase of West Nile virus activity was reported in the state. A positive infection has been reported in a Hill County horse. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported the confirmed case, along with three confirmed human cases, in Dawson, Rosebud and Yellowstone counties, along with another case confirmed in a horse in Pondera County. All cases were hospitalized for their illnesses.

Belgrade’s Bootstrap Ranch, the sole facility in Montana that rehabs severely brain-injured adults, was forced to close last week. In May, the nonprofit’s board of directors decided that the Belgrade ranch would close by Aug. 15.The ranch had three hard-to-place clients who were finally placed by the facility.

According to Lee Enterprise newspapers NorthWestern Energy customers have come out strongly against the utility’s energy supply plan during the first three stops of a listening session tour with state utility regulators. Customers testifying in Helena and Great Falls and Billings told Montana’s Public Service Commission, that the state’s largest monopoly utility needed to pivot away from power plants burning coal and natural gas..

Two months after a railroad bridge collapse sent some carloads of oil products plunging into Montana’s Yellowstone River, the cleanup workers are gone. The railroad responsible, Montana Rail Link, in conjunction with federal and state officials has halted most cleanup work and stopped actively looking for contaminated sites. More than half of the 48,000 gallons (180,000 liters) of molten petroleum asphalt that spilled has been recovered. Downstream intakes for drinking water and irrigation reported no impacts.

The federal government will be taking over the security at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on October 8. With heavy foot traffic, the airport has decided it’s time to restart its use of the Transportation Security Administration for airport security. Surpassing two million passengers in 2022, Bozeman Yellowstone has seen growth in traffic. The current staffing shortages have caused frustration with long lines and delays during security.

In 2004, the Forest Service petitioned for the OTO’s Dude Ranch listing on the National Register of Historic Places and, over the past few decades, the agency has poured money into making sure the buildings stay standing. Now dudes have come back to the OTO for the first time in over half a century. For the past two years, the Arizona-based True Ranch Collection has hosted a “pop-up” tourist ranch, with the proceeds going to the Forest Service. But the future of the OTO hangs in the balance as the pop-up ranch’s permit expired this year. Now, the Forest Service must decide what’s next for the iconic 3,263-acre property.

Ben and Madison Miller arrived in Sidney on January 2021, as Ben took a job as associate pastor of the Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church. Two and a half years later, Madison Miller was offered a job as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Boys and Girls Club of the MonDak. She started work on July 28. Originally from Tum Water, Washington, with a population of 30,000 Miller said it was a transition for them both. Miller is working with the former CEO who is staying on as a staff member in research and development.

By Chris Woodward, The Center Square

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a plan to build a water diversion pipeline in southwest Montana meant to aid Arctic grayling, a rare species of freshwater fish.

District Judge Donald W. Molloy issued the injunction this week in a lawsuit brought by Wilderness Watch and other environmental groups against the U.S. Fish & Wilderness Service and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The pipeline is meant to divert cold water to the indigenous fish population that’s dwindled in the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness area.

The Missoula-based Wilderness Watch argued the water diversion pipeline within the wilderness area is a “blatant violation of the Wilderness Act, which prohibits the agency from intentionally modifying Wilderness habitat.”

Molloy wrote in the injunction that “in light of the Wilderness Act’s strict requirements, the mere possibility that the proposed action may aid in Arctic grayling conservation is not enough to create necessity.”

Montana Trout Unlimited, a fish conservation group that supports the project, called the ruling “a blow to the grayling, the spirit of collaborative conservation and Wilderness character.”

“This delay and its proponents stand to have far greater negative impacts to this Wilderness ecosystem by risking the disappearance of one of the most unique and iconic species than the short and modest construction efforts implementing the project in a Wilderness area would entail,” the group said.

Construction workers remain a crucial component of the American workforce, and contribute significantly to the country’s economic development. To determine the locations with the most construction industry jobs, Construction Coverage calculated the percentage of total employment in the construction sector in Q4 2022, then ranked metros accordingly. The analysis found that 6.77% of jobs in the Billings metro area are in the construction industry, 1.5 percentage points higher than the national concentration. Over all, since the 2008 recession, the share of construction employment has since remained flat.

For the first time in years, drought figures have decreased across the board. This wet season has significantly lowered the chances of wildfires this year.

QuoteWizard, in analyzing drought data in at-risk wildfire states in advising wildfire insurance companies, determined that severe drought has decreased by 88% in Montana since 2022.

They have reported that, even with the decrease, 8 percent of Montana is experiencing a severe drought in 2023 and 29 percent of the state faces an extreme wildfire risk. The state is actually at the top of most-at-risk states for fires – followed by Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, California, Wyoming, Utah and Washington.

Nationally, drought area decreased for all of the states most at risk of a wildfire.

Their report stated, “More than 11.2 million properties were at risk of wildfires in 2022, and most wildfire-prone states are facing severe droughts. So far this year, nearly half of states that were previously experiencing severe drought dropped by 100%, including California. Montana is most at risk of wildfires, with 29% of the state facing extreme risk, even though its drought risk decreased by 88% since last year.”

By Manish Bhatt, Tax Foundation

(Editor’s Note: The Tax Foundation recently published a report on Montana’s new tax changes, explaining them and evaluating their potential effectiveness.)

Montana is renowned for its vast natural beauty and outdoor recreation, but the state also boasts a competitive tax climate, ranking fifth in our 2023 State Business Tax Climate Index. Like many other states, its coffers are overflowing, and lawmakers have rightly prioritized tax reform to share the strong revenue position with those calling the Treasure State home. Legislators should build on these efforts and provide sustainable and sound property tax relief.

Short- and Long-Term Tax Reforms

In 2023, Montanans will be eligible for tax refunds and rebates on income and property taxes.  Generally, one-time, or short-term, tax relief options are not efficient or effective and can exacerbate the negative effects of inflation. However, these measures were paired with long-term, pro-growth tax reforms that could boost the competitiveness of the state overall.

Montana’s seven individual income tax brackets will be consolidated into two in 2024. Previously, the top rate was set to drop to 6.5 percent (down from 6.75 percent), but Senate Bill 121 will reduce it further to 5.9 percent. The bill also raises the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 10 percent of the federal credit. House Bill 221 creates two rates (depending on income and filing status) for taxing capital gains—4.1 percent and 3.0 percent—replacing a 30 percent net long-term capital gains deduction set to take effect in 2024.

Businesses in Montana will benefit from House Bill 212, which raises the business property tax exemption from $300,000 to $1,000,000; this will eliminate 78 percent of current taxpayers from the rolls at a cost of a mere $9 million a year, absorbed by the state. Additionally, Senate Bill 124 revises corporate income tax apportionment from three-factor (double-weighted sales factor) to single sales factor beginning in 2025.

Principled Property Tax Relief Is Needed

Overall, these reforms are commendable and other states should follow the example Montana has set. However, like elsewhere in the Mountain West, Montana property owners are facing rising property values and, in turn, are saddled with greater property tax burdens. Property tax collections don’t need to keep pace with soaring property values because the cost—and value—of government services isn’t dependent on those values. While inflation has increased the cost of government, there’s no reason why a community where property values have increased by, say, 40 percent should have to remit 40 percent more in property taxes from that same set of properties. Residents are not receiving 40 percent more or better government for their money.

Ballot Initiative 2, now before the Supreme Court after an attorney general’s determination that the initiative is legally insufficient, seeks to limit property taxes through several provisions, including: (1) establishing 2019 as the base for real property valuations, (2) instituting a valuation assessment limit of two percent unless the real property is newly constructed, significantly improved, or changed ownership, and (3) limiting the amount of ad valorem tax that may be assessed to one percent of the real property’s value.

Despite the good intentions, this proposal is not sound tax policy and could create detrimental market distortion. Assessment limits are problematic because they incentivize property owners to remain in their homes longer, as purchasing a new residence triggers a new assessment and, potentially, higher taxes. This often disproportionately impacts younger or lower-income purchasers as the supply of starter homes is reduced when more established, higher-income property owners forgo new purchases.

Moreover, assessment limits could result in similar properties in the same neighborhood having dramatically different property tax obligations depending on purchase date—benefitting those with longer tenures in their homes and, effectively, penalizing more recent purchasers (many of them younger homeowners). Appraisal caps also disincentivize new construction and major home improvements, both of which could result in the owner paying higher property taxes.

The ballot initiative applies to many classes of real property, including multifamily rental units, but it excludes business machinery and equipment. To be clear, including rental property in the relief is positive because the tax burden is less likely to shift from single-family homeowners to lessees in the form of higher rent, which could occur if the measure was less neutral. While the legislature has raised the exemption limits for business property, it will be important to ensure that such equipment is not disproportionately impacted by higher levies in the future to recoup lost revenue from other property classes.

Assessment limitations provide property tax relief for homeowners, but they come with real costs, distorting housing markets to the detriment of many of the homeowners—and would-be homeowners—the limits purport to help. Fortunately, Montanans and their lawmakers have options. They could consider levy limits, which restrict the growth of revenue collections from property taxes, rolling back millages across the board to limit the amount that a jurisdiction’s property tax collections can increase from rises in assessed value alone. This can help avoid the disparities that result from assessment limits, lowering rates for everyone when collections rise due to a spike in assessed values, rather than protecting some homeowners to the detriment of others. If states like New York and Massachusetts manage to get this right, surely Montana can too.

Policymakers could also pursue what some states call “compression,” which is when the state uses its own funds to buy down local property tax rates. Simply capping rates, however, is not effective and would not protect property owners from valuation surges or from other policies intended to raise collections. And compression itself may backfire unless paired with levy limits; without them, local governments could pocket the state transfers and later raise millages back to where they had been previously.

Absent a special session, the Montana legislature next convenes in 2025, meaning taxpayers may have to wait for relief that is sorely needed today. This creates a precarious situation and one in which hasty decision-making could leave the state dealing with long-term negative outcomes. Ballot Initiative 2, regardless of whether it goes before voters, has a flawed design that homeowners may come to rue, but it speaks to a real and legitimate concern over rapidly rising property taxes. Policymakers should pursue principled property tax reform that benefits all property owners without creating market distortions or unfairly shifting the tax burden.

Competitive Enterprise Network

The Consumer Price Index ticked up slightly from June to July, but CEI Senior Economist Ryan Young explains why the true inflation problem was masked by falling energy prices.

“The overall inflation picture stayed about the same in July compared to June. The headline annual CPI number went up from 3.0 percent in June to 3.2 percent in July. The core CPI number, which gives a better picture of the monetary inflation the Fed bases its decisions on, improved slightly, from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent.

“The biggest source of the difference between the overall and core CPI numbers is energy prices, which have fallen 12.5 percent over the last year. This fall is due to supply and demand, not the money supply, so it makes the overall CPI number look better than it really is. That is one reason why the headline number gives a poor picture of actual inflation.

“Both overall and core CPI remain well above the Fed’s 2 percent target and likely will for some time. The Fed’s next interest rate decision will be in September. There will be one more CPI release between now and then, so this month’s release won’t play that much a role in whether the Fed increases rates again this fall.”

Montana State University Billings Professor of Communication Susan Balter-Reitz, Ph.D., has been named a University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement Fellow for 2023-2024.

Balter-Reitz and her co-author, Michael Bruner, Ph.D., University of Nevada Las Vegas Professor of Communication Studies, together round out the class of ten Fellows who will be examining issues impacting democratic exchange and free expression on college campuses. Specifically, Balter-Reitz and Bruner will be assessing the impacts of the FORUM Act on free speech on public universities in the United States.

Balter-Reitz and Bruner have been concerned with the attacks on public colleges and universities under the guise of protecting free speech in their collaborated research over the last decade. Examples include their 2017 publication about the manipulation of university free speech rules by individuals such as Milo Yiannopoulous and their recent work on the passage of FORUM Acts in state legislatures around the country at the National Communication Association Conference in 2022. Additionally, the two won the Franklyn Haiman award given by the National Communication Association to honor distinguished scholarship in Freedom of Expression in 2015.

“Dr. Bruner and I are thrilled to have been selected to develop our research as part of this distinguished group of scholars from across the nation,” says Balter-Reitz. “We look forward to sharing our findings about the impact that state legislation has on shaping free expression on college campuses and the implications it has for the future of public universities.”

Enplanements at Logan International Field in Billings increased YTD as of June, 11.81 percent, and deplanements 16.29 percent.

For the first six months of 2023, a total of 198,165 passengers flew out of Logan Field, compared to 177,231 for the first six months in 2022. Of the seven carriers United Airlines transported the lion’s share with over 58,000 passengers. Other carriers are Allegiant, American, Cape Air, Delta, Frontier and Horizon.

Air freight has declined in 2023 by about 20 percent.

Mail by air also declined. Mail on dropped by .84 percent and mail off declined 29.29 percent.

Newly Licensed Businesses June 2023

Stillwater Machine LLC, 2931 Stillwater Dr, 59102, 579-3387, Jake Johnston, service

G Bell LLC, 14 E Almadin Ln, 59105, 208-4693, Gard Bell, service

Avis Budget Car Rental LLC, 1801 Terminal Circle, 59105, 973-496-4700, Jeannine Pallumbo, service

BD Equipment Services Inc, 4712 Rimrock Rd, 59106, 201-7711, Bill Beede, service

CORE Volleyball Academy, 3465 AJ Way – Unit 111, 59106, 201-9585, Ran Dee Ochinero, service

Cobblestone Landscaping LLC, 1480 Uniontown Rd, Genesse ID 83832, Jake Osborne, service

Totally Whipped, 2144 Eagle Rock Dr, 59101, 647-5971, Kenneth Weher, restaurants

LKeller Photography, 3360 Hidalgo Dr, 59101, 698-9233, Laurena Keller, service

Flow Riders LLC, 3819 Drury Ln, 59105, 901-3270, Jami DeHaven, service

Candy King Group Corp., 11100 Valley Blvd #220, El Monte CA 91731, Jian Liu, restaurants

The Frybread House LLC, 1503 Rosebud Ln, 59101, 672-9388, Leonard Cochran, restaurants

Custers Retreat, 1043 Custer Ave, 59102, 625-0002, Matt McAlvain, real estate rental

360 Pressure Washing, 139 Terry Ave, 59101, 413-1125, Christina McCulley, service

Ross Construction, 6 Walnut Grove Dr, 59102, 894-3797, Arron Ross, general contractor

Bluecore Power LLC, 2001 Sixth Ave – Ste 1776, Seattle WA 98121, 206-201-0300, Sandra Blackburn, electrical contractors

Piece O’Cake, 2160 Skyview Dr, 927-4515, Kristina Morton, retail sales

Rubies and The Fig Trees, 933 Edgehill Vista Rd, 59101, 679-3642, Sarah Hosa, retail sales

CWI, LLC dba Camping World, 976 Rosebud Ln, 59101, 270-781-2718, Donita Kirby, retail sales

Tam3 Consulting LLC, 2626 Cook Ave, 59102, Thorton McGill, service

PG Marketing LLC, 3217 E MacDonald Dr, 59102, 697-1391, Perrin Grubbs

Inspire Medical Systems Inc, 5500 Wayzata Blvd – Ste 1600, Golden Valley MN 55416, 612-670-8772, Marc Ertl, retail sales

3 Kings Excavation & Asphalt LLP, 745 Henesta Dr, 59101, 696-8393, Justin & Jessica Bickham/John Hankinson, service

Uncle Josh’s Smoke Shack, 5179 Midland Rd, 59101, 763-244-0321, Joshua Nestrud/Heather Ackerman, restaurants

Big Sky Costume Jewelry, 5305 Sundance Mountain Circle, 59106, 432-294-4142, Liliana Harris, service

HP Communications Inc, 13341 Temescal Canyon Rd, Corona CA 92883, 951-572-1200, Marisa Eventes, service

Zeren Electric LLC, 2050 Hwy 91 North, Dillon MT 59725, 498-4509, Ryan Zeren, electrical contractors

Casablanca International Consultations, 816 Rock Moss Dr, 59101, 591-5615, Bailey Brown, service

Tellworks Communications LLC, 415 N 16th St, 59101, 550-3204, Shanon Ruff, service

JI Hot Dogs Pizza and More, 2719 1st Ave N, 59101, 425-3091, JoJo Tobias, restaurants

Decks Gone Wild LLC, 3050 Helen Dr, 59101, 670-4862, Tory Nick, general contractor

LNS Rentals, 388 Sahara Dr, 59105, 916-8380, Tamari Rutledge, real estate rentals

The Daily Crunch Bookkeeping Services, 2451 Bonito LP, 59105, 775-455-6783, Jill Detwiler, service

Nevada Countertops Supply LLC, 3251 E Warm Springs RD – Ste 400, Las Vegas NV 89120, service

JPW Brick Slayer, 24 S 8th St W, 59101, 690-9362, Jeremy Pretty Weasel, service

Cerus Enterprises LLC, 3755 West Accipter Dr, Coeur D’Alene ID 83815, 208-503-5333, Joshua Fledderman, general contractor

DHB, 526 Burlington Ave, 59101, 901-0801, David Hill, general contractor

Shimmering Heights, 501 S 44th St W #1106, 59106, 925-3661, Caleb Mills, service

Deanna Young LMT, 2116 Broadwater Ave, 59102, 598-1804, Deanna Young, service

Your Home Away from Home II (2), 1228 Maurine St, 59105, 534-3511, Jessica Robinson, service

Blue Heron Construction, 2311 Kings Dr, 59101, 927-3650, Simon Harris, general contractor

Lukas Rentals, 1026 Nutter Blvd, 59105, 655-4445, Lukas Martinson, real estate rental

Grey Finn LLC, 2311 Spruce St, 59101, 600-1117, Daniel Faaborg, real estate rental

Skyline Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation, 1807 24th St W, 59102, 801-601-1450, Rachel Winder, service

Petco #1299, 2618 King Ave W, 59102, 210-201-9387, n/a retail sales

MK Mechanical LLC, 8732 Suzanna Dr, 59101, 208-3234, Matthew Kottke, services

The Shear Shack LLC, 1350 Panners Pl Apt J, 59105, 307-899-4750, Danielle Uchtman, service

AJC Properties, 1521 Lewis Ave, 59102, 694-5951, Asa Campbell, real estate rental

Dick Zier Brokerage Inc, 2139 Broadwater Ave – Ste F, 59102, 698-3153, Alex Zier, service

Elevate Solar, 425 S 2nd ST, Livingston 59047, 704-305-5919, Ben Caylor, service

Alikat Kleaning, 3912 Victory Circle #136, 59102, 598-1988, Alison James, service

Bad Canyon Excavation and Construction, 2205 58th St W, 59106, 647-1000, general contractor

Anyway Energy LLC, 3221 110K Ave SW, , Dickenson ND 58601, 701-495-1161, Darcy Schmidt, service

EC MT Customs, 4340 Phillip St, 59101, 860-6746, Elizabeth Chaffin, retail sales

Rise Above Cleaning LLC, 620 W Main St #3, Laurel 59044, 927-2193, Melissa Emery, service

Continental Cleaning Company LLC, 825 Ahoy Ave, 59105, 671-6902, Vicki Eubank/Mark Engeron, service

City Blue Productions LLP, 2049 Interlachen Dr, 59105, 670-2329, Pam Goodridge, service

Goodgulf Consulting, 3075 Winchester Trail, 59106, 672-5099, James Leaphart, service

Jones Covey Group, 9595 Lucas Ranch Rd, Rancho Cucamonga CA 91730, 888-972-7581, Ellen Collins, general contractor

Leonardson Inc, 3006 17th St W, 59102, 606-9357, Scott Leonardson, general contractor

Nathan Clouse Construction, 404 South Moorehead, Miles City 59301, 853-3522, Nathan Clouse, general contractor

Branded Construction, 516 9th St W, 59102, 697-0378, Kumba Gould, service

804 Clark LLC, 804 Clark, 59101, 208-6407, Rachel Moorehead, real estate rental

TCA Group Inc, 2223 Montana Ave, 59101, 442-8594, Amy Strainer, general contractor

Nations Roof Mountain LLC, 10621 W Executive Dr, Boise ID 83713, 208-322-2474, Kent Tolley, general contractor

Absarokee Development LLC, 1110 Poly Dr, 59102, Glenn Plenty Hawk,  restaurants

The Cleaning Edge, 120 S 35th St, 59101, 839-6892, Tiphani Stambaugh, service

A’s and B’s preschool, LLC, 1536 Mullowney Ln Ste 201, 59101, 855-6833, n/a, schools

Elan Medspa LLC, 1537 41st W, 59102, 855-4002, Kaciey Tisdale, services

Big Sky Marine Sales LLC, 2561 Monad Rd, 59102, 633-0456, Jaymi Rooyen, retail sales

MAKK LLC, 1030 Yale Ave, 59102, 869-4180, Kevin Kraft, 869-4180, real estate rental

   MC Concrete Lifting, 2252 Ave C, 59102, 970-4098, Caleb Borgstrom, general contractor

Balance & Bloom LLC (Healing), 1721 Wicks Ln, 59105, 598-7748, Amber Emmons, service

Balance & Bloom LLC (Retail), 1721 Wicks Ln. 59105, 598-7748, Amber Emmons, retail sales

Princeton Street Charmer Airbnb, 661 Tumbleweed Dr, 59105, 694-7475, Cheryl and Brian Emmons, real estate rental

Zomi Inc, 515 Leopard St, 59106, 850-3855, Gideon Holmes, service

Beacon Air Group, 2390 Overlook Dr, 59105, 800-700-5107, Joel Simmons, service

Blue Elk Advisors LLC, 434 Calle Gomez, San Clemente CA 92672, 949-838-4807, James Chalmers, service

Chaikhana, 300 S 24th St W #D03, 59102, 304-8987, Sadi Chaikhana, restaurants

By Joe Mahon Director, Regional Outreach, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Strong commodity prices continued to benefit agricultural producers in the opening months of 2023, but inflation has taken a bite, especially looking forward. “Cash flows are positive, but due to higher inputs, interest rates and family living, there is some concern,” said a Minnesota banker in a comment from a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis survey.

According to lenders responding to the Minneapolis Fed’s first-quarter agricultural credit conditions survey, conducted in April, farm incomes and spending increased over the opening three months of 2023. Growing incomes also led to increased loan repayment rates, while loan demand decreased, and renewals and extensions also edged lower on balance. Farmland values increased on average from a year earlier across the district, and cash rents climbed as well. But the outlook for the growing season is less bullish, as respondents on balance expect declines in farm incomes and a mixed picture for spending.

Expectations heading into the growing season are somewhat cautious. Across the district, 48 percent of lenders predicted that farm income will decrease in the second quarter from the same period in 2022, compared with 17 percent forecasting increases. The outlook for capital spending is also down on balance, with 38 percent expecting declines, while a third of respondents expect farm household spending to increase. Expectations call for an uptick in borrowing in the upcoming quarter—37 percent think loan demand will increase, compared with 21 percent who think it will fall. The outlook for loan repayment is positive on balance, though two-thirds expect no change in repayment rates. Survey respondents overwhelmingly indicated they expect no change in renewals and extensions to decrease on balance. Nearly all anticipate no change in required collateral, though 10 percent expect collateral requirements to increase.

An additional question on the first-quarter survey asked lenders about their biggest concerns for agriculture this year. By a large margin, commodity price volatility is the most common concern, selected by 52 percent of respondents. Rising interest rates, at 27 percent, is next, followed by input cost and/or availability.

Half of district bankers surveyed indicated that farm incomes increased in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the first quarter of 2022. By contrast, only 15 percent of respondents reported decreased incomes from a year ago. Similarly, 53 percent of lenders reported seeing an increase in household spending. Capital spending by farming operations was flatter, as 44 percent of respondents reported no change. A slightly higher share of those remaining indicated increases than those who reported decreases. Some lenders noted that due to higher interest rates, many equipment purchases were being paid for in cash rather than through loans.

“Renewal season is progressing and we are seeing decent earned net worth gains for the most part,” commented a South Dakota banker. While 69 percent of lenders reported no change in the number of loan renewals or extensions, 22 percent said renewal activity decreased. The rate of repayment on agricultural loans increased, according to 40 percent of respondents. Most of the remainder reported that repayment rates were unchanged.

Given improved income for farmers, loan demand fell. Nearly half of bankers in the survey reported a lower loan demand in the first quarter relative to the same period a year earlier, compared with 13 percent who noted increased loan demand. The amount of required collateral saw no change at 92 percent of agricultural banks. Interest rates on farm loans continued to increase, following a year-long trend. Average fixed and variable rates on operating, machinery, and real estate loans each increased in the first quarter by at least 25 basis points or more from the end of 2022.

The growth in land values seen over the past several years continued but tapered off, and cash rents also grew. Ninth District nonirrigated cropland values increased by more than 11 percent on average from the first quarter of 2022, though compared with the most recent quarter they actually fell slightly. Irrigated cropland values also rose, by 10 percent from a year ago, while ranchland and pastureland values edged up 3 percent. The district average cash rent for nonirrigated land rose by almost 8 percent from a year ago. Rents for irrigated land increased 10 percent, while ranchland rents increased 7 percent. Changes in land values and rents were generally consistent across district states.