Farmers' outlook improved modestly last month ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but growers remain worried about soaring input costs, according to a monthly survey. 

The Ag Economy Barometer maintained by the CME Group and Purdue University rebounded six points last month to the same level reported in December. The barometer’s index of future conditions jumped 10 points and currently shows the highest reading – 122 – since August.

"These survey responses suggest that concerns about the spike in production costs and supply chain issues continue to mostly outweigh the impact of the commodity price rally that's been underway this winter," said Jim Mintert, the barometer's principal investigator and director of Purdue's Center for Commercial Agriculture.

The February survey of 400 farmers from Feb. 14-18 also showed high input costs continue to be the chief worry among producers, with 47% of those surveyed labeling it their number-one concern. Lower output prices (16%), environmental policy (13%), farm policy (9%), climate policy (8%), and COVID-19’s impact (7%) also have the attention of farmers and ranchers.

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Of the surveyed corn and soybean producers, 30% say they’ve had trouble purchasing crop inputs from their suppliers, with herbicides, fertilizer and machinery parts posing the biggest challenges.

Farmers also say they’re having a hard time finding the new tractors, combines and other machinery they want. More than 40% of those surveyed said “low farm machinery inventories are holding back their investment plans,” a report accompanying the month’s results noted.

The February survey also asked producers about their current internet access and found about three out of 10 farmers “are unable to take advantage of many applications and services which require reasonable quality internet access.” Of those queried, about 30% said they had “high quality” internet, 41% said it was “moderate quality,” 16% reported “poor quality” and 12% said they had no internet access at all.

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