WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2017 - Producers’ optimism about the future of the agricultural economy fell in September, according to a sub-index of the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The sub-index – the Index of Future Expectations – fell seven points last month to 130. The overall Ag Economy Barometer held steady as another sub-index, the Index of Current Conditions, increased. “Although the decline in the Index of Future Expectations was modest, it could be an indication that some of the optimism that surfaced among producers in late 2016 and early 2017 is eroding,” said Jim Mintert, director of Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture and principal investigator for the barometer. “One of the drivers of the jump in producer sentiment after the 2016 U.S. presidential election was a sharp increase in expectations about the U.S. economy.

But the last two times the barometer survey has posed questions about the overall economy, respondents were noticeably less optimistic.” The survey also asked respondents whether NAFTA has been good or bad for the U.S. economy and, separately, for U.S. farmers and ranchers.  In the case of the U.S. economy, 52 percent of respondents said they thought NAFTA had been good. Fifty-nine percent reported that they thought the agreement had been good for U.S. farmers and ranchers.

But Mintert noted that unusually large percentage of survey participants -- 24 percent in the case of the U.S. economy and 20 percent in the case of farmers and ranchers -- opted not to answer these two questions. “Although we can’t say for sure why producers opted not to respond to these two questions, it might also reflect a relatively high degree of uncertainty regarding NAFTA’s impact,” he said.