The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer weakened in February as producers became less optimistic about current economic conditions and the commodity price outlook. The barometer, which is based on a survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers, declined seven points to a reading of 136, down from 143 in January. A rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 still indicates overall positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry.
Weaker expectations for the future and, especially, a decline of producers' perception of current conditions combined to drive the barometer lower. The Index of Current Conditions saw the biggest drop, down from 132 to 119, while the Index of Future Expectations weakened slightly, down from 148 to 145.
Additionally, when producers were asked whether they have plans to grow or increase the size of their current operation in 2019, 50 percent of respondents said that they either "have no plans to grow" or "plan to reduce in size," compared to 39 percent in 2018.