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Ag barometer drops: COVID-19 causes farmer pessimism

The agriculture barometer index drops below 100 as coronavirus disrupts the industry. The barometer is based on responses from 400 U.S. agricultural producers. This month’s survey was conducted April 19-24.
The agriculture barometer index drops below 100 as coronavirus disrupts the industry. The barometer is based on responses from 400 U.S. agricultural producers. This month’s survey was conducted April 19-24.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Ag Economy Barometer dropped to a three-year low in April due to coronavirus concerns, commodity price declines and supply-chain disruptions.

“Over the past two months, producers have felt the first shock waves being created by the coronavirus,” said James Mintert, director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.

“Disruptions in the supply chain are causing many to look at ways they can mitigate risk in this uncertain environment and sharp declines in commodity prices have added significant financial pressure on many U.S. farming operations.”

The Index of Current Conditions and the Index of Future Expectations declined sharply.

“The biggest decline, especially over the last two months, has been in the Index of Current Conditions, which fell to 72 from 111 last month, and all the way from 154 two months ago,” Mintert said.

Farmers have become much less inclined to make large investments in their farm operations, according to the survey.

When asked what their No. 1 concern regarding their farm and the COVID-19 situation, 43% of farmers said they were concerned about market access.

Thirty-seven percent said financial considerations and 13% said they were worried about health and safety.

“However, when we followed up and asked about changes on their farming operations, 35% of farmers in our survey said they had made some changes already in the way they operate their farm in relations to the COVID-19 concerns,” Mintert said.

Sixty-seven percent, roughly two thirds of the farmers in the survey, said they were either fairly worried or very worried about coronavirus impact on farm profitability in 2020.

A little over half of the farmers said they anticipate applying for a financial assistance program.

The next barometer update will be released June 2.

Read the full Ag Economy Barometer report at https://purdue.ag/agbarometer.

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