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Other - JANUARY 11, 2019

U.S. farmers and ranchers less optimistic about 2019

by Released

There was a modest drop in agricultural producer sentiment in December 2018 as farmers’ perception of both current and future economic conditions weakened, according to results from the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The December barometer reading of 127 was 7 points lower than November. The barometer is based on 400 survey responses from agricultural producers across the country.

Both of the barometer’s two subindices declined in December: the Index of Current Conditions fell 6 points to 109, and the Index of Future Expectations fell 8 points to 135. When comparing these readings to December 2017, the Index of Current Conditions is substantially lower, registering a decline of 30 points, while the Index of Future Expectations actually improved year-over-year with an uptick of 15 points.

“Over the course of the last year, producers’ impression of current economic conditions on their farms has declined markedly,” said James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture. “But at the same time their expectations for future economic conditions have held steady. As a result of this mixed view, farmers appear to be cautious about making large investments in their farming operations.”

In December 2018, for example, the Large Farm Investment Index, which measures whether producers feel it is a good time to make large farm investments, fell 5 points to a reading of 51. This marked a 29 point drop from one year ago when it reached a reading of 70. Those same concerns also were apparent when producers were asked whether now is a “good time” or “not a good time” to bring a new generation of family into the business. Only 42 percent said now was a “good time” compared with approximately half during the previous two years. When looking ahead five years, however, 65 percent of producers expect conditions to be more favorable to onboarding a new generation.

International agricultural trade issues continue to cause concern and could be causing producers’ reduced confidence in current economic conditions. When producers were asked whether they expect exports to increase or decrease in the next five years, 59 percent indicated they expect agriculture exports to increase, down 7 points from November’s survey response, whereas 26 percent expect agriculture exports to decrease, up from 10 percent on the November survey.

Read the full December Ag Economy Barometer report at http://purdue.edu/agbarometer. This month’s report includes additional information about farmers’ usage of and perceived value of incorporating drone technology into their farm’s operation as well as their production expectations for the pork, beef and dairy industries. Each month, Mintert also provides an in-depth analysis of the barometer. That video is available at purdue.edu/agbarometer.

The Ag Economy Barometer, Index of Current Conditions and Index of Future Expectations are available on the Bloomberg Terminal under the following ticker symbols: AGECBARO, AGECCURC and AGECFTEX.

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