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    Deborah Maskell-Davies.

Survey: Farmers remain confident

A survey into Victorian farmer confidence has found producers have maintained a positive outlook despite mounting concerns about input prices and conditions leading into harvest.

The latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey showed while overall rural confidence in the state eased in the latest quarter, it remained solid, underpinned by strength in commodity markets.

But cool and wet conditions running into summer, combined with workforce concerns and high input costs, appeared to contribute to the increase in farmers forecasting conditions to deteriorate.

The survey found sentiment remained firm among beef and dairy producers and no significant change in confidence among sheep producers.

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It was grain growers who were largely behind the drop off in sentiment this quarter, with confidence in the sector well down compared with a September survey.

More than one in five Victorian grain growers surveyed reported a pessimistic outlook, expecting conditions to worsen during the year ahead.

Rabobank southern Victoria regional manager Deborah Maskell-Davies said overall business conditions were ‘very’ good across most regions in Victoria.

She said excellent commodity prices in most sectors were keeping farmers relatively positive about the year ahead.

She said seasonal conditions had been excellent for croppers and livestock producers in the state’s north, while in the northern Mallee around Swan Hill, where there had been less rain, crops were still yielding well, and prices were strong.

“Livestock prices have assured good income levels, and rapidly increasing land values, with record prices in nearly all sales, are boosting that confidence,” she said. “It was a cool and grey spring, however, and grain and pasture growers are certainly looking for some consistently warm, sunny days to support final maturing of crops and good harvesting conditions later this month.”

This quarter’s survey, completed last month, revealed 33 percent of Victorian farmers surveyed expected better business conditions in the year ahead.  

While this was in line with the 34 percent with a similar view last quarter, the number expecting a deterioration in conditions rose to 15 percent, from six percent last quarter.

Just under half of respondents, 49 percent, expected business conditions to remain stable.

Ms Maskell-Davies said very good pasture and feed conditions on top of excellent prices was driving optimism in both these sectors.

The most notable drop in sentiment was among grain producers, where conditions in the lead-up to harvest were weighing on confidence. 

This quarter, while 40 percent of growers surveyed still expected improved business conditions during the year ahead, was down from 63 percent last quarter.

By region, sentiment among Victorian farmers is highest in the Murray-Goulburn Valley as well as the Gippsland area. 

Confidence eased among producers in the Wimmera-Mallee region with 29 percent of farmers forecasting improved conditions, down from 43 percent in September.

“The Wimmera is looking very good with excellent crops, but the Mallee is just average in the approach to harvest,” Ms Maskell-Davies said.

“Confidence is really being held up by commodity prices in those areas. There is some concern about seasonal conditions and too much rain.”

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!