Farmers upbeat for 2017

Farmers are generally optimistic about the performance of their own farming business.
Farmers are generally optimistic about the performance of their own farming business.

A big season, with irrigation water aplenty, is sustaining farmer confidence at historically high levels, despite lacklustre cereal grain prices.

Even dairy farmers are smiling, a bit.

Cotton and sugar producers are particularly bullish about the year ahead, while sentiment is holding strong in the sheep and beef sectors says farm sector lender Rabobank.

NSW and Queensland farmers are the nation’s most positive, according to Rabobank’s latest rural confidence survey.

Dairy farmer enthusiasm has seen the biggest turnaround on the back of a slow global recovery in commodity markets.

Recovering from a four-year mood low, dairy farmers were still worried by the price outlook, but the survey found concerns were less pronounced as the year wrapped up.

Respondents said the 2017-18 season finally looked likely to deliver a return to farm profitability.

After posting a significant upswing last quarter, the net rural confidence indicator held its strong levels, with 36 per cent of farmers continuing to expect agricultural economic conditions to rise and only 15 per cent tipping the situation to worsen in 2017.

About 92 per cent of the nation’s farmers plan to increase or maintain their level of farm business investment in the next 12 months – up slightly from 90 per cent in the previous quarterly survey.

Record global stockpiles continue to burden grain price prospects.

Rain, and improved water storage levels, have revived cotton industry prospects noticeably, with 62 per cent of producers expecting better conditions in 2017.

Good seasonal conditions and strong markets had 40 per cent of beef and 35 per cent of sheep producers expecting a better year ahead.

Sugar and cotton producers were most positive.

Farmers generally retained an optimistic view on the performance of their own farming business, with 34 per cent expecting better financial results next year and 46 per cent believing their incomes would be relatively unchanged.

Meanwhile, 34 per cent of farmers hope to boost their skills and knowledge, particularly through better on-farm management practices.