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Confidence grows among Vic farmers

Improvements in dairy sentiment underpins broadly positive expectations for the coming season.

ROB HENSON June 11, 2014 3:15am

Victorian farmers have reported an upswing in confidence this quarter, with producers upbeat about their prospects across all major industries — dairy, grains, beef and sheep — bringing net confidence to a three-year high.

In recent surveys, the strong sentiment in the Victorian farming sector has been largely underpinned by the dairy industry, but confidence has now rallied among beef and sheep producers on the back of rain and the associated recovery in market prices.

Meanwhile, grain growers have retained a positive outlook on the season.

Farmers also indicated strong longer-term confidence in the industry, with 28 per cent holding expansionary investment intentions.

The latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey completed last month reported a sharp upswing in confidence, with Victorian farmers remaining the most upbeat group of farmers across the nation for seven consecutive quarters.

Those expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to improve now stands at 44 per cent of respondents (up from 37 per cent), while those that expect conditions to worsen has more than halved to seven per cent (down from 17 per cent).

Meanwhile around half of the state’s farmers (49 per cent) held a stable outlook on the coming year.

Monitoring sentiment in Australian rural industries, the Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey questions about 1000 primary producers across a range of commodities and geographical areas throughout Australia quarterly.

Rabobank Victorian manager Todd Charteris said farmers across the state were buoyed by the ‘‘fantastic autumn rains which arrived at just the right time’’.

‘‘Widespread rains have seen a ‘flurry of activity’ with the winter crop pretty much all in on an excellent sub-soil moisture profile and establishment has been further boosted by the unseasonably mild conditions that we have been experiencing in recent weeks,’’ Mr Charteris said.

The rain had also been welcomed by the state’s graziers, he said, with markets responding to the improved seasonal conditions not only in Victoria but through much of southern and central NSW, as well as parts of Queensland.

Mr Charteris said confidence remained robust among the state’s dairy farmers, with 61 per cent expecting the next 12 months to be better than the last.

‘‘While there has been a modest easing in global dairy prices in response to increased supplies from key exportable nations, prices are holding up well and the end-of-year forecast for farmgate prices remains strong at around $6.80/kg milk solids.’’

More stories on page 2.

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