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Farmer Optimism Hits All-Time Low Point

Farmer optimism is hard to find these days. DTN found out firsthand that optimism is at a record low in the tri-annual DTN Agriculture Confidence Index. DTN Editor-in-Chief Greg Horstmeier says the dip in farmer optimism is in no way a surprise.

“We do this survey three times a year; in the spring, right before harvest, and then at the end of the year during farm tax time, and the drop from December when we last did this is not a surprise, given COVID-19 and everything that’s going on. But still, it’s a record drop down to a 67.”

An index reading above 100 is considered optimistic, while a reading below 100 is pessimistic. Horstmeier said the biggest surprise was just how far farmers’ optimism had fallen, especially given that spring planting is underway in parts of rural America.

“The depth of the drop, given that one of the things we’ve been hearing is that agriculture has pretty much moved on as normal the last six-to-eight weeks, because everybody’s getting ready to go to the field. So, the fact that this puts that much of a damper on farmer moods was pretty significant.”

One thing that stood out to Horstmeier is how far the future outlook has fallen too.

“One of the things that come out this one was we’ve had some springs where the current situation score was low or down in the pessimistic range, but usually, the answers to the question ‘how do you think you’re going to be a year from now,’ the future expectations, is usually really positive, especially in the spring, and it was down to 73, so it again was in that significantly pessimistic territory, so that’s really the big one to me.”

The pessimism seems to run throughout the entire agriculture sector.

“The thing that stood out was how significantly across the board things were. Usually, we see little differences between livestock producers and crop producers; we’ll see a regional difference, where maybe the Midwest is a little less positive than the Southeast or Southwest, and this one was really across the board.”