Under 35-year old farmers most positive about current farm financial performance

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When RealAgristudies surveyed farmers in January as part of the Canadian Farmer Sentiment Index, some very interesting trends developed, with notable changes happening over the last few months.

Today, we are going to look at the impact that age has on how farmers view their current farm financial performance:

In aggregate, famers said that their current farm financial performance is an 86 which indicates a decline in sentiment, a stark contrast from a year ago when it stood at 119 in January 2023 (the high for the year). This downward trend reflects a growing concern among farmers about their financial health, mirroring the challenges seen in crop budgeting.

Interestingly, age plays a crucial role in shaping these sentiments on current farm financial performance. Contrary to what some might expect, it’s the under-35 age group that reports feeling better about their current farm financial performance compared to a year ago. Specifically, 39 per cent of this younger demographic feels they are better off than a year ago, while only 17 per cent of those aged 55 and over share this optimism. Moreover, a significant portion of each age group reports their financial performance as unchanged, suggesting a level of stability amidst the overall decline.

As you can see in the graphic above only 21 per cent of the under-35 year old respondents feel that their current farm financial performance is worse than a year ago which is the lowest of the age brackets.  The trend is fairly clear that as the respondents increase in age their opinion changes to a more negative sentiment on this question.

What stands out is the resilience of the under-35 age group. Their sentiment has remained relatively stable over time, unlike the more pronounced declines seen in older age brackets. This resilience could reflect a combination of factors, including perhaps a different risk tolerance, adaptability to market changes, or the impact of innovative farming practices. Another possible explanation is that younger farmers are more likely to be excluded from the meeting with the accountant or the banker and therefore are basing this question on feel and not the realities.

Back to the comment about stability — you can see above that the under-35 group has only dropped from 127 to 118 from January 23 to January 24. In comparison the over-65 aged group has dropped from 117 to 77. A year ago there wasn’t the same noticeable difference between ages when it came to sentiment on current farm financial performance.

This analysis underscores the importance of considering demographic nuances when evaluating farmer sentiment. It also highlights the need for supportive policies and practices that address the diverse challenges faced by Canadian farmers across different age groups.

For more detailed insights and to join the conversation on this topic, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. Your perspectives enrich our understanding of the numbers and help us build questions for the next survey.

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