October 19, 2021

Ag barometer: farmer sentiment weakens to lowest level since July 2020

Article origination Indiana Public Media
Courtesy of Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture

Courtesy of Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture

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American farmers are less confident about current and future conditions than they were a month ago, according to the September Ag Economy Barometer report. The report recorded the weakest farmer sentiment since July 2020.

Barometer co-author Jim Mintert said the survey picked up a lot of anxiety from ag producers.

“People are uncertain as to what's going to happen with respect to ag exports,” Mintert said. “They're uncertain about, you know, just how dramatic the rise in input costs is going to be. And they're uncertain about what that's going to mean with respect to a cost price squeeze.”

Farm input prices have risen on average about 2 percent per year over the last decade. That includes prices for fertilizer, machinery and other expenses.

In the September Ag Barometer survey, one-third of respondents expected significant cost increases — 12 percent or more. Compared to July, that's twice the number of respondents who felt that way. 

That’s due in part to the rising price of natural gas, an ingredient in fertilizer. 

Mintert said the price of fertilizer almost doubled from the same time last year.

“And as I visit with people in the fertilizer industry, that doesn't capture all of the increase that's out there. Most of the people in the industry are expecting another round of increases later this fall when they replenish supplies,” he said. 

Mintert said limited supplies of fertilizer will also make it challenging for some farmers to get what they need for the spring planting season.

But the survey did find farmers expectations of farmland values in both the short-term and long-term continuing to rise. Mintert said the low-interest rates make farmland attractive to farmers and non-farm investors.

The monthly survey conducted by Purdue University researchers collects responses from 400 agriculture producers in the U.S.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.

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