The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer took a dive in March, dropping 47 points from the previous month to a reading of 121. 

This was the biggest one-month drop in the history of the index, which dates back to late 2015. 

Declining agricultural commodity prices and the coronavirus impact on the U.S. economy and ag sector are what took down farmers’ previous optimism. 

This month’s decline in the index wipes out the improved sentiment that took place last fall and winter, leaving the index at the same reading it was in September of 2019. 

The Index of Current Conditions dropped 43 points, while the Index of Future Expectations went down 49 points during March. 

Both measures dropped by their largest amounts since the survey began collecting data back in 2015. 

The biggest reason for the drop is producers’ worry over what kind of impact the coronavirus outbreak will have on their farms in 2020. 

Coinciding with the coronavirus impact, a growing number of producers say they expect their farm’s financial performance in the upcoming year to be worse than last year. 

The weaker economic outlook also made farmers less optimistic about investing in their operations.