Producers offered an optimistic opinion for their current economic expectations while painting a more cautious picture of their future standing in a monthly report out Tuesday.

According to the Ag Economy Barometer maintained by the CME Group and Purdue University, overall farmer sentiment rose in December for the first time since May. The increase — nine points to a barometer reading of 125 — was fueled by corresponding increases in the survey’s indexes of current and future expectations. 

“Excellent crop yields this fall combined with strong crop prices provided many producers with their most positive cash flow in recent years. That combination helps explain the year-end rise in the financial index as well as the barometer overall,” Purdue’s Jim Mintert said in a statement.

Farmers did, however, flag concerns about the availability and costs of key inputs for the looming growing season. Higher input costs were mentioned as the top concern for the upcoming year, as 47% chose that option from a list that also included lower crop and/or livestock prices, environmental policy, farm policy, climate policy and COVID’s impact.

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Asked which crop inputs they’ve had difficulty purchasing from suppliers, 31% of respondents said fertilizer, 28% said herbicides, 24% said farm machinery parts and another 17% said insecticides.

Availability of farm machinery is also a growing concern in farm country; some 45% of respondents said tight inventories impacted their purchase plans.

The survey is based on the responses of 400 U.S. producers. Last month’s survey was conducted Dec. 8-14.

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