Optimism, Willingness to Invest, Build Among Farmers

Producers’ perception of improved conditions in the agricultural economy pushed the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer to all-time record highs last month.

The barometer rose to 168 in February, an increase of one point from January, which represented an 18-point jump over December.

This month’s increase was attributable to an improvement in the Index of Current Conditions, which rose 12 points from January to a reading of 154.
Meanwhile, the Index of Future Expectations fell just 4 points below the record high set in January to 175.

The Farm Capital Investment Index, which assesses farmers’ willingness to invest in equipment and other capital, continues to strengthen.

The February reading climbed to 72 from January’s 68, which makes this survey the strongest investment index in two years.

The investment index over the last four months has been noticeably stronger than in late summer and early fall, when it ranged from 47 to 59.
Jim Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture said this: “Optimism about the agricultural trade outlook was underpinned by recent trade agreements and appeared to be the primary driver behind the improvement in sentiment.”

The Ag Economy Barometer is based on a mid-month survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers.