WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA, U.S. — U.S. agricultural producers’ feelings about the agriculture economy held steady in November and there are signs of optimism creeping into the future outlook, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer.

The November barometer reading of 134 was only 1% lower than October, which is similar to levels seen last spring before trade disruptions began. The barometer utilizes a survey of 400 agricultural producers from across the country.

The two sub-indices were mostly unchanged from October. The Index of Current Conditions held at 115, and the Index of Future Expectations dropped 3 points to a reading of 143.

"Although there was a modest decline in the barometer this month, there was some evidence that producers are becoming more confident regarding the U.S. agricultural economy's future," said James Mintert, the barometer's principal investigator and director of Purdue University's Center for Commercial Agriculture.

That confidence can be seen in producers' attitudes towards their willingness to make large farm investments. Each month producers are asked whether now is a "good time" or "bad time" to make a large investment in buildings and machinery.

Responses are used to produce a large investment index. In November, that investment index stood at 56, up from 52 in October and 10 points higher than in September of 2018 when the index set a new low of 42.

Producers were also more optimistic regarding their long-term perspective on farmland values, with 50% expecting higher farmland values over the next five years, a sharp departure from a month earlier when just 21% said they expected higher farmland values.

With November marking an end to the mid-term election cycle, producers were asked whether they were concerned that Congress had not passed new farm bill legislation. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they were either "somewhat or very concerned," 33% said they were "very concerned," and 24% said they were "not at all concerned" about the lack of new Farm Bill legislation.

To read the full November Ag Economy Barometer report, click here