Farmer sentiment is unchanged amid input, interest rate concerns

Farmer sentiment was unchanged in the latest Ag Economy Barometer as high input costs and rising interest rates continue to be a concern.

The monthly national survey of 400 producers by Purdue University and CME Group measures the health of the U.S. ag economy.  

Jim Mintert, director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture, says that’s not likely to change in 2023.

“As you think about the concerns that people have for their farming operation, overwhelmingly people are worried about the input side. Forty-two percent said higher input costs is their number one concern, 21 percent chose rising interest rates as their top concern, availability of inputs was chosen by 14 percent of respondents and that matched the percentage of people who said they were worried about lower crop or livestock prices,” he says.

He tells Brownfield it’s unusual that the three top concerns are all related to inputs.

“The biggest concern among producers historically tends to be focused on what am I going to get for the crops I’m growing and what am I going to get for the livestock that I’m raising. Those are still concerns but (respondents) are saying they’re not nearly as big as what’s going on with the input side,” he says. “I think it’s interesting that 14 percent of the people surveyed are worried about the availability of inputs. If you think about the history of agriculture of the last four or five decades, how many times have we had to worry about availability of inputs? When people tell us inputs, they mean more than one thing. They’re not just looking at one item like, for example, fuel or fertilizer, it’s a multitude of things they’re worried about.”

The latest survey was conducted the week following the midterm elections but, unlike the period following the two most recent presidential elections, there wasn’t a noticeable sentiment swing.

“The survey has only been in existence since the fall of 2015, so we don’t have a lot of experience with how farmers respond to elections, except following the 2016 election there was a big swing in sentiment. And, it was definitely driven by the election We did some follow-up questions, and it was clear that was a big driver,” he says. “We saw a smaller but still noticeable response following the 2020 presidential election. We haven’t seen that much impact coming off the midterm elections.”

The overall barometer held steady at a reading of 102. The Index of Current Conditions declined 3 points this month to a reading of 98 while the Index of Future Expectations rose 2 points to 104.

The survey was conducted Nov. 14-18.

Audio: Jim Mintert

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