March barometer: Half of producers pessimistic about their financial future

Fifty-two percent of producers nationwide are less optimistic about their farm’s financial future compared to 2018, according to this month's Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, based on a survey of 400 producers nationwide. Financial stress and concerns about future conditions in agriculture largely contributed to this month’s decrease in the overall score, which declined from 136 in February to 133 in March. "This month's drop is largely due to producers' weaker outlook regarding future economic conditions in agriculture and, in some cases, stress regarding their farm's future financial performance," said the barometer’s principal investigator, James Mintert. The index of future expectations dropped 6 points, from 145 to 139. However, the index of current conditions remained relatively steady at 120. When looking at financial performance expectations for 2019 compared to 2018, 59 percent of producers expect their farm’s performance to remain the same, 21 percent expect better and 20 percent expect things to get worse. Producers remain confident about ag exports, with 68 percent expecting exports to increase and only 8 percent expecting them to drop in the next five years. Regarding the current trade dispute with China, 77 percent of producers were confident that the trade war will be resolved in a way that benefits U.S. agriculture, but less than half expect the trade situation with China to be resolved before July 1.

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