The holiday season is always a good time for giving thanks and for the hope of a new beginning. As we segue from Thanksgiving into the fast-approaching Christmas season, we can look back on the past year and what we have to show for it. For those of you who have harvest completed, are you thankful for the bountiful harvest, or are you merely thankful that is it finally over?
Apparently, optimism reigns across the land, according to the most recent Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer that is a monthly nationwide measure of the health of the U.S. agricultural economy. Four hundred agricultural producers are surveyed each month to get their collective economic sentiment.
The latest barometer, released Dec. 3, shows those surveyed feel good about the ag economy, as the index for November is the highest it's been for 2019, equaling the mark set in July. The November index of 153 is up 17 points from the October index.
The producers are surveyed on current conditions, as well as future expectations, both showing improvement. The index for producer sentiment of current conditions soared 38 points in November, while the sentiment of future expectations was a little more reserved as the index rose 7 points. The monthly barometer includes both crop and livestock producers.
Optimism breeds optimism, and that shows in that producers indicate they'll be more likely to make farm capital investments, with that index rising to a 71 in November, the highest reading since February of 2018, and 12 points above the index from October.
A lot of this optimism may lie with the optimism that Washington and Beijing can resolve the trade issues that have plagued the United States and China for far too long now. Producers included in the Barometer survey were first asked in March about their confidence in a quick resolution to the U.S.-China dispute. Last month, 57% of respondents expect a resolution soon, up from 29% in August leaning toward a quick resolution. Not only do producers anticipate a quick resolution, 80% expect the outcome to be beneficial for U.S. agriculture.
In addition to giving thanks, and the hope of a new beginning, this time of year is also about gifts, and I can't think of too many gifts for U.S. agriculture that would be better than a "normal" 2020 growing season, a disease-free swine herd and a beneficial resolution to the U.S.-China trade war.
You can read the full November Ag Economy Barometer report, as well as watch a short video overview of results from the barometer survey, available on the Ag Economy Barometer's website or on the Center for Commercial Agriculture's YouTube.