Skip to Main Content

COVID-19 Continues to Impact Farmer Sentiment; Majority Indicate Economic Assistance Bill Necessary

Ag Barometer Outlook Coronavirus impact continues to weigh on farmer sentiment. (Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer/James Mintert)

Farmer sentiment improved slightly in May after falling sharply in both March and April, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index was up 7 points from April to a reading of 103, but it remained nearly 40 percent below its all-time high of 168 set in February. The Ag Economy Barometer is based on responses from 400 U.S. agricultural producers and this month’s survey was conducted May 18-22.

The Index of Current Conditions improved in May, up 11 points from April to a reading of 83, as did the Index of Future Expectations, up 4 points to a reading of 112. In May, farmers were also somewhat more inclined to think now is a good time to make large investments in their farming operations. The Farm Capital Investment Index rose to a reading of 50 compared to just 38 a month earlier. While collectively all three of these indices improved in May, each was down more than 30 percent compared to February, before coronavirus impacted markets.

“This month’s survey was conducted the same week that USDA announced the details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) so awareness of that program’s details could be one of the key reasons for this month’s barometer improvement,” said James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture. “Yet some farmers remain worried about their bottom line and are still looking for options to alleviate those concerns.”

In the May survey, more than 70 percent of respondents indicated they were “very worried” (34 percent) or “fairly worried” (37 percent) about the impact of coronavirus on their farm’s profitability, up from 67 percent in April. Their two biggest concerns were market access (42 percent) and financial (39 percent), with health and safety (11 percent) coming in third. Providing further evidence of their financial concerns, two-thirds of farmers surveyed indicated they think it will be necessary for Congress to pass another bill to provide more economic assistance to U.S. farmers.

When asked about expectations for their financial position over the next 12 months, over 60 percent said they expect farmers’ equity positions to decline over the next year, up sharply compared to 28 percent of farmers who felt that way in February. Meanwhile, over 25 percent of farmers surveyed who rent farmland said they expect to ask their landlords to lower their cash rental payments in 2021 as a result of COVID-19. Mintert suggested this could lead to downward pressure on cash rental rates next year.

Read the full Ag Economy Barometer report at https://purdue.ag/agbarometer. This month’s report includes insight into producers concerns over the ethanol demand and expectations for farmland values. The site also offers additional resources – such as past reports, charts and survey methodology – and a form to sign up for monthly barometer email updates and webinars. Each month, the Purdue Center for Commercial Agricultural provides a short video analysis of the barometer results, available at https://purdue.ag/barometervideo.

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.

About the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture

The Center for Commercial Agriculture was founded in 2011 to provide professional development and educational programs for farmers. Housed within Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, the center’s faculty and staff develop and execute research and educational programs that address the different needs of managing in today’s business environment.

About CME Group

As the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME Group (www.cmegroup.com) enables clients to trade futures, options, cash and OTC markets, optimize portfolios, and analyze data – empowering market participants worldwide to efficiently manage risk and capture opportunities. CME Group exchanges offer the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes based on interest ratesequity indexesforeign exchangeenergyagricultural products and metals. The company offers futures and options on futures trading through the CME Globex® platform, fixed income trading via BrokerTec and foreign exchange trading on the EBS platform. In addition, it operates one of the world’s leading central counterparty clearing providers, CME Clearing. With a range of pre- and post-trade products and services underpinning the entire lifecycle of a trade, CME Group also offers optimization and reconciliation services through TriOptima, and trade processing services through Traiana.

CME Group, the Globe logo, CME, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Globex, and E-mini are trademarks of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. CBOT and Chicago Board of Trade are trademarks of Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc. NYMEX, New York Mercantile Exchange and ClearPort are trademarks of New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. COMEX is a trademark of Commodity Exchange, Inc. BrokerTec, EBS, TriOptima, and Traiana are trademarks of BrokerTec Europe LTD, EBS Group LTD, TriOptima AB, and Traiana, Inc., respectively. Dow Jones, Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and S&P are service and/or trademarks of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and S&P/Dow Jones Indices LLC, as the case may be, and have been licensed for use by Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. 

Featured Stories

The base of the Grand Canyon at the Colorado River
For the love of the land

2016 was the first time that Jalyn Gearries, a Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES)...

Read More
A close-up of hands with blue nail polish planting sage next to the Native American Educational and Cultural Center
Purdue Agriculture’s Sloan Scholars

The Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership (SIGP) is an organization of 11 universities funded by...

Read More
Purdue's bell tower stands tall behind a foreground of purple petunias
Purdue agriculture professors named AAAS Fellows

Purdue College of Agriculture professors Songlin Fei and Tesfaye Mengiste have been named fellows...

Read More
almonds on a table with almond milk
Homemade nut-based dairy analogs raise questions about bacterial risks

Many consumers know the food safety risks of dairy products, eggs and raw meat. But they are less...

Read More
A bottle of Boiler Bee Honey sits on the edge of chrome table in Skidmore lab with two students cooking in labcoats and hairnets in the background.
The sweet (and spicy) taste of victory—National Honey Board funds a food science development competition at Purdue

In the past few years, specialty sauces like hot honey combined the classic warm, sweet feeling...

Read More
Against a black backdrop, three dozen egg carton are neatly arranged to surround many loose brown eggs
Butcher Block adds eggs from chickens fed orange corn

The Boilermaker Butcher Block’s selections will now include farm fresh eggs laid by Purdue...

Read More
To Top