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Barometer: Farmers are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus

Farmer sentiment dropped nearly 50 points to 121 in March because of coronavirus concerns, according to the latest Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. That’s the largest one-month decline since the survey started in October 2015.

Jim Mintert, Director for Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture, says farmers are concerned about how the coronavirus will impact their operations this year.

“It was clear coronaviurs was a major driver in this drop in sentiment,” he says. “74 percent of the people in our survey said they were either fairly worried or very worried about the impact of the coronavirus on their farms profitability and the largest category was very worried at 40 percent.”

In the Ag Economy Barometer, a rating above 100 indicates positive sentiment about the ag economy. Mintert says it’s unclear if that rating will remain positive in the next survey because of volatility in the markets during this uncertain time.  

About 40 percent of farmers surveyed expect their farm’s financial performance in the upcoming year to be worse than last year. Farmers are also less optimistic about investing in their operations.

“Farmers were starting to pull back and think twice about whether or not  they wanted to make large investments in their farming operation, with respect to, for example, new equipment, putting up new buildings, that kind of thing,” he says.  

The monthly survey of 400 US farmers was conducted March 16-20.

Audio: Jim Mintert

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