CHICAGO, ILLINOIS and WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA, US — US farmer sentiment reached a record high in October 2020, as farmers were more optimistic about improving financial conditions, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index was up 27 points from September to a reading of 183.

The Ag Economy Barometer is based on responses from 400 US agricultural producers with this month’s survey conducted from October 19-23.

Ag producers were optimistic about both the future and current financial situation on their farms. The Index of Current Conditions rose 36 points from to a reading of 178, and the Index of Future Expectations increased 23 points from October to a reading of 186.

“Since bottoming out this summer, the ag economy has rebounded sharply and the dramatic improvement in sentiment reflects the turnaround in the farm income picture,” said James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture.

Mintert was referring to a late summer/early fall rally in commodity prices combined with government program payments arising from the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2), which provided a boost to many producers’ farm income.

According to the report, corn and soybean prices continued to rally even though US corn yields are expected to set a record high and USDA projects soybean yields to be the fourth highest on record.

“Together the combination of good yields, a rally in crop prices and CFAP 2 payments set the stage for an all-time-high in the barometer and farmer sentiment,” Mintert said.

Optimism was reflected throughout the survey on several of different situations and outlooks regarding the US ag economy.

Comparing their farm’s financial condition today to one-year ago, 25% of survey respondents said their farm was better off financially now than at the same time last year. According to the report, this was the most positive response from producers to this question in the history of the barometer survey.

The trade outlook with China was met with optimism as 59% of respondents said they expect to see China fulfill the food and agricultural import requirements outlined in the Phase One trade agreement with the US, compared with just 47% in September. When asked for their overall perspective on US ag exports, the percentage of producers expecting exports to rise over the next five years increased to 65% in October, up from 58% in September.

Read the full Ag Economy Barometer report on the Purdue University website.