After a major decline in August, the Ag Economy Barometer declined again in September as producers “were noticeably more pessimistic about current conditions on their farms and in the U.S. economy.”

The barometer — a joint effort of Purdue University and the CME Group — dropped just three points, but the barometer’s index of current conditions dropped 22 points. The future expectations index actually rose six points from the August readout, as producers report optimism about future economic conditions.

The concerns over current conditions were reflected in the barometer’s index measuring producer perspectives on making large investments in their farming operations. That index was down nine points from August and 20 points below July’s reading, which was the highest of the 2019 calendar year.

In addition to an improved future economic outlook, producers increasingly expect the trade war with China to come to an end soon. In July, just 22% or producers expected the dispute “to be settled soon,” a figure that jumped to 41% in September. Seventy-two percent of producers also expect the resolution to benefit U.S. agriculture.

Producers are also showing less gloom about their expectations for the upcoming grain harvest. In May, the survey asked whether producers expected profitability in crop production would improve, diminish, or stay the same over the next 12 months; at the time, 41% of respondents expected diminishing returns based on concerns about delayed planting. In the September survey, that figure dropped to 21% and the percentage of producers expecting improved profitability jumped from 10% in May to 16% in September.

The figures are based on a nationwide telephone survey of 400 producers between Sept. 9-13.

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