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DTN/Progressive Farmer: Optimism Remains Despite Falling Index
USAgNet - 01/11/2019

Following one of the wettest fall harvests in recent history, farmers from across the country are demonstrating their negativity in the most recent DTN/The Progressive Farmer Agricultural Confidence Index (ACI).

The survey, which was conducted in December 2018, saw an index drop of more than 50 points, from the record-setting 164.8 found in the survey just prior to the harvest.

Since 2010, DTN has conducted the survey three times a year: early spring before planting, August, just prior to harvest, and just before the end of the year, during tax preparation time.

"Farmers responding to the telephone survey answer a series of financial and income questions that compare the present to how they expect conditions to be in the coming year," said Greg D. Horstmeier, DTN editor-in-chief. "A score is given to rate their 'present situation' and to their 'future expectations.' Those numbers are combined to create the overall Agriculture Confidence Index."

Farmers Combat Pessimism With Optimistic Look at Future

Farmers have remained hopeful since 2016, despite deteriorating incomes and financial conditions, and trade disputes. Farmers gave a future expectations score of 138, down 23.1 points from pre-harvest ratings, but 15 points above expectations last year.

The survey shows that farmers think input prices will be better next year, and their farm and household incomes will improve.

Midwest farmers -- those affected most by poor harvest conditions and by trade-dispute issues -- were the least optimistic. Their overall index was down 59.2 points, to 103.4. This pessimism was also demonstrated in their present condition scores of just 35.4 points, down 120 points from the pre-harvest survey.

With a 58.1 point drop from August, crop farmers scored an overall index of 113.9. Likewise, livestock producers put overall conditions at 97.9, down 50.8 points from August and down 14.7 points from last year.

Unsurprisingly, crop farmers were more optimistic about the future with a score of 148.9, whereas livestock producers scored a more neutral 113.5.

A survey similar to the one with farmers, DTN/The Progressive Farmer also conducts a query of at least 100 agriculture retailers for the DTN/The Progressive Farmer Agribusiness Index.

The overall Index is 107.3, up 11.7 points from pre-harvest and 6.6 points from 2017. Agribusiness owners put their future expectations at 105, up from just 84 points pre-harvest, and five points above last year's levels.

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