Concerns over weak farm income forced a sharp decline in the monthly Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index dropped to a reading of 114, 15 points below its August reading of 129 and its lowest reading since October 2016.
Organizers say the barometer, a sentiment index based upon a nationwide monthly survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers, has been unusually volatile in recent months. The volatility reflects uncertainty in farm country with trade issues, the expectation of bumper crops and low prices. Producers indicated that financial conditions on many farms deteriorated significantly as 2018 unfolded and farmers’ expectations for the future weakened as well.
On the September survey, 54 percent of respondents said their farms’ financial condition was worse than a year earlier, and asked to look ahead, 33 percent of producers in September said they expect financial conditions on their farm to be worse a year from now.