The nation’s producers are at their most optimistic since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year based on improved expectations for commodity prices and U.S. agricultural trade.

The Ag Economy Barometer jumped 26 points in August to its highest reading since February. The survey’s measurements of current and future expectations both rose to their highest levels since February’s record highs.

“The improvement in farmer sentiment this month was underpinned by expectations for excellent crop yields, as indicated in USDA’s August Crop Production report, and nearly across-the-board rallies in key ag commodity prices that took place in August,” a joint press release from Purdue University and the CME Group, which jointly administer the barometer, noted.

In recent months, a range of 55-57% of farmers reported expecting U.S. ag exports to increase over the next five years; in August, that figure shot up to 67%. Purdue and CME noted that figure is a marked increase over recent numbers, but it’s also lower than the 70-72% of producers expecting boosted exports in late 2019 and early 2020. The groups said the August increase “could be based in part on rising export sales to China this summer” as the country seeks to comply with the purchase commitments set out in the “phase one” trade deal.

The results are based on a telephone survey of 400 producers conducted Aug. 17-21.

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