Dramatic Improvement Shows On Ag Barometer

Collette Schultz

‘Barometer’ measures farmers’ growing optimism

Ag Economy Barometer Widget

A national poll, gauging the sentiments of U.S. farmers, shows a dramatic improvement in their optimism, with polling numbers reaching record highs.

The Purdue-Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group’s “Ag Economy Barometer” showed that agricultural producers had a much improved outlook following the November election. The recent monthly update of that survey showed that that their optimism continues to soar.

Their sentiments hit a record high for the second consecutive month, according to this survey. The “barometer” created by the survey, show a January number of 153 – a new record high for the survey, which was created in 2015. That was up substantially from December’s record-breaking 132.

The survey noted that producer sentiment fell to 92 in October, just before the election and the January number marks the third straight month in the survey’s uptick.

The barometric figure is a compilation of various readings, including “Index of Current Conditions,” which climbed in the January report from 102 to 118 in January; but the “Index of Future Expectations” is what drove the barometer with a 23-point increase from December to January.

The barometer is based on a monthly survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers and a new barometric number is released on the first Tuesday of each month. Purdue and the CME designed the barometer to create a tool for producers, economists, traders and financial industry professionals who are interested in the agricultural industry and the broader global economy.

Analysts at Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture noted that producers’ optimism may have been linked to improvements in prices for key commodities, including cattle, hogs and soybeans which improved during the fall.
Cattle futures rose over 20 percent, lean hog futures rose more than 30 percent and Chicago Board of Trade futures for soybeans rose 10-plus percent from the fall, the survey’s economists noted.

This improvement in outlook comes despite a majority of the producers – 58 percent – indicating that their farms’ financial conditions were worse than a year ago. That number compares to August’s figure, when 81 percent felt their farms were in worse financial condition than a year earlier.

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