A measure of the state of farm country dropped for the second month in a row, “effectively wiping out the improvement in sentiment that took place following the 2016 election.”

The Ag Economy Barometer, a monthly measure of farmer sentiment released by Purdue University and the CME Group, dropped below 100 (to 96) in April for the first time since October 2016. The plummeting figure comes just two months after the barometer set an all-time high (168) in February.

“Dramatic declines in commodity prices, combined with concerns about coronavirus impact on farm profitability, led to the largest one-month decline in the Index of Current Conditions in the history of the barometer survey,” Purdue and CME noted in a release.

This month’s survey, conducted April 19-24, also asked questions specific to producer reaction to the coronavirus. According to the results, two-thirds of surveyed producers were concerned about the virus (39% said they were very worried, 28% said they were fairly worried), but most of that alarm materializes in fiscal considerations rather than health and safety woes.

Asked about their top concern during the market reaction to COVID-19, 42% cited market access, 37% referenced financial considerations, and 13% said health and safety. The remaining 8% named “other” concerns.

While there is a fair share of pessimism about the current state of play in rural America, there also was improved sentiment on farmland values, something Purdue and CME said slightly suggested “that (farmers) view the current disruption in agriculture and food markets to be temporary and look for markets and farm profitability to rebound in the years ahead.”

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