Farmer Sentiment Dips Amid Weaker View of Current Conditions

Source: James Mintert and Michael Langemeier, Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture

U.S. farmers’ sentiment weakened in August compared to July as the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer dipped 8 points to a reading of 115. This month’s decline was fueled by producers’ weaker perception of current conditions both on their farms and in U.S. agriculture as the Current Conditions Index fell 13 points to a reading of 108. The Future Expectations Index also declined in August to a reading of 119, 5 points below a month earlier. This month’s Ag Economy Barometer survey was conducted from August 14-18, 2023. Although producer sentiment weakened in August, producers’ rating of farm financial conditions changed little this month, as the Farm Financial Performance Index declined just one point to a reading of 86. However, producers’ perspectives on farm financial conditions were noticeably weaker than a year earlier when the index stood at 99. Weaker producer sentiment this month did translate into a decline in the Farm Capital Investment Index. The investment index fell to 37, eight points lower than in July and two points lower than a year earlier. Among producers with a negative view of the investment climate, the increase in prices for farm machinery and new construction along with rising interest rates were the two most commonly cited reasons for their negative view. In a related question, over half (60%) of producers in this month’s survey said they expect interest rates to rise in the upcoming year.

When asked about top concerns for their farming operations in the next 12 months, producers continue to point to higher input prices and rising interest rates as their top two concerns. Higher input prices was chosen by one out of three (34%) and rising interest rates was chosen by one out of four (24%) survey respondents as a top concern. Even though crop prices weakened significantly this summer, producers ranked declining commodity prices as their number three concern, chosen by one out of five (20%) producers.

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