Although the stock market took a significant plunge this past week following the election, this week’s numbers show how southeastern Idaho is seeing an increase in commodity prices.
Local farmers have remained untouched by the drastic market dip felt nationwide. Wendy Swore has been a farmer for the past 16 years. Everything she grows, she sells to local markets and to General Mills.
Fortunately for her and other farmers across southeast idaho, this past week’s significant stock market dip has not affected them at all. As a matter of fact, they have been seeing a demand in their crops.
“(In previous years) we would get several calls from people who wanted to go out and glean the potato field because they were hungry,” said Swore. “Or they would come by for corn and wouldn’t have money to pay for their corn so we were giving a lot of produce away. And this year we had only like two people who could even think of any one who was in need of food.”
The Dow plunged 430 points overnight after the election, and totaled with the S&P 500, that’s more than a 3 percent drop.
One economist said this is unique to southeastern Idaho.
“One of the things we’ve experienced related to agriculture in southeastern Idaho is that it tends to be immune from economic downturns, even short-term worries or panics” said Dan Cravens of the Department of Labor. “Even when the stock market turns down, ag prices usually won’t.”
Fast food chains such as McDonald’s have been seeing a decrease in sales this past week, but economists are saying that’s a good indicator that the local economy is actually doing better. The price of local grains and wheat have increased by about 10 percent this past week as well, which is due to people in the community having more money to spend.
“As far as commodities, the higher the prices, the better off we are because in your rural areas when you have income to our farmers increasing, they have more money to spend here locally,” said Cravens.
Cravens said that unemployment in southeast Idaho is down to 6.1 percent. Power County is now down to 6.4 percent, down from 9.5 percent in the past year alone.
Swore put it in simpler terms: “They say if you’ve eaten today, hug a farmer.”