Farmers are expressing more concerns regarding the future as the monthly Ag Economy Barometer drifts lower. Released this week, the March survey fell to 133 down from 136 a month earlier. Organizers say increasing concerns about future economic conditions drove the barometer lower as the Index of Future Expectations declined to 139 in March compared to an index value of 145 in February.
The current conditions measure was unchanged compared to February at 120. The Barometer surveys 400 agricultural producers monthly. A rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 indicates positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry. Producers expressed more concern regarding farmland values, as 25 percent of farmers surveyed expect farmland values to drift lower over the next 12 months.
Survey results from January and March 2019 suggest that five to as much as seven percent of U.S. farms are suffering from some financial stress, using the need to carryover unpaid operating debt as an indicator of financial stress.