Farmers' Economic Optimism Drops In Latest Survey

May 14, 2019

Farmers' confidence in the economy tumbled last month, according to the latest Ag Economy Barometer reading. The April survey had the fourth largest sentiment index drop since it began in 2015.

The ongoing trade war with China is worrying many farmers. They’re also making less money off their crops. And recent rainy weather is delaying some planting.

Jim Mintert is co-author of the Ag Economy Barometer and a Purdue researcher. He says transitioning some of the corn acreage to soybeans could be a solution. But, farmers might be more reluctant to switch this year.

“That’s particularly stressful this year because soybean prices have dropped significantly over the course of the winter and early part of the spring,” says Mintert. “And of course the trade sanctions with China, trade dispute, has really impacted soybean prices the most.”

A growing majority of farmers that responded to the survey say they don’t expect a resolution to the ongoing trade fight between China and the United States by July.

Combined with low market prices on corn and soybeans, Mintert says most farmers say they’re holding off on large investments.

“And in turn what that could mean, if this plays out, if this continues, you know that could turn into a challenging year for, for example, equipment dealers and other suppliers of major investment items to the farm community,” he says.

Last week the U.S. and China trade war escalated when the Trump administration put additional tariffs on Chinese imports. China retaliated with higher taxes on U.S. goods.