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Ag Barometer: Farmer Sentiment Up, But Most Still Financially Concerned Due To COVID-19

Courtesy of Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture

A survey of farmer sentiment improved slightly in May after dropping substantially the last two months. Most respondents are still concerned about profitability due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The national Ag Economy Barometerconducted by researchers at Purdue University shows more than a quarter of farmers say they will be looking to reduce farmland rental prices.

This comes as conversations between landowners and tenants are set to start this summer.

The survey responses have more than 70 percent of agricultural producers are still worried about profitability due to COVID-19.

Also, about 60 percent believe farmers’ equity will diminish over the next 12 months. This more than doubled from when the question was asked in February.

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Barometer co-author Jim Mintert says the pandemic could push rents down despite federal assistance the past two years that helped keep cash-rent rates up.

“So it kind of depends a little bit I think on not only on the attitudes and what people are thinking today, but to some extent also what happens with respect to financial support coming out of USDA,” says Mintert.

While the federal CARES Act does provide some financial aid to farmers, Mintert says most survey respondents say another aid package will be needed this year.

“Indicating what’s taken place so far with respect to the CARES Act was probably not large enough for them to really mitigate the impact of what’s happened here this spring,” he says.

Mintert says he plans to continue to ask through the summer if additional aid will be needed to better understand how COVID-19 is impacting farmers.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.

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