Ag Economy Barometer Shows Slight Improvement in May

After a sharp drop in March and April, farmer sentiment in May improved slightly, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer.

The needle rose to 103, seven points higher than April. However, the index remained almost 40 points below its all-time high of 168 that was set in February of this year. The people behind this month’s barometer say the survey was conducted the same week that USDA announced the details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, so the program details could be one of the key reasons for this month’s improvement in the barometer.

The Index of Current Conditions climbed 11 points higher from April to May, coming in at 83. The Index of Future Expectations rose four points to a reading of 112. Farmers seem to be thinking of making investments in their operations, with the Farm Capital Investment Index rising to 50 in May, 12 points higher than in April.

More than 70 percent of respondents said they were “very worried” (34 percent) or “fairly worried” (37 percent) about the impact of coronavirus on their farm’s profitability. There’s even more evidence that farmers are concerned about finances as two-thirds of the respondents indicated they think it will be necessary for Congress to pass another bill to provide more economic assistance to U.S. farmers.