Farmers Sentiment Jumps In Ag Barometer, Highest Since Pandemic Hit U.S. Agriculture

Sep 7, 2020

Credit (Courtesy of (Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture)

The Purdue Ag Economy Barometer shows farmer sentiment across the country improved in August. The confidence is at the highest level since the pandemic hit U.S. agriculture.

COVID-19 left farmers facing financial losses due to supply chain issues and low commodity prices, driving down optimism.

But now with expected high yields this fall, improved crop prices, and a recent rise in exports to China, farmers have a more positive outlook.

Report co-author Jim Mintert said these developments are good news for farmers and the survey reflects just that.

“Yeah, the improvement was pretty significant, it moved 26 points,” said Mintert. “So it went from 118 in July to 144 here in August, and of course, if we go back to April, the index was at 96. So we've really had a pretty dramatic turnaround going back to the spring.”

The August survey also shows farmers across the country are feeling better about their financial situation.

During the pandemic, the monthly survey has asked about federal aid with most participants saying they would need financial help due to losses from COVID-19.

Mintert said a recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report shows farm income this year will be heavily driven by federal government support.

“Federal government support is record high so far this year,” he said. “And that's actually providing a boost to net farm income. According to USDA’s estimates, I think of about roughly $18 billion compared to last year so that support is being felt. I mean, it's clearly having an impact out there.”

But Mintert said not every farmer is better off with the aid. He said crop farms are expected to have higher aggregate incomes this year, while incomes may drop for livestock farms.

The barometer surveys 400 farmers across the country each month.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.