Fu­ture bright

Shepparton News - Country News - - GRASSLAND CONFERENCE -

Good late-win­ter rain­fall in the state has seen Vic­to­rian farm­ers re­tain their po­si­tion as the most pos­i­tive in the na­tion for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive quar­ter, the lat­est Rabobank Ru­ral Con­fi­dence Sur­vey has found.

While the dri­est June on record saw con­fi­dence in Vic­to­ria’s agri-sec­tor re­treat from last quar­ter’s two-year high in the lat­est sur­vey, the re­cent rain came just in time to cur­tail any neg­a­tive im­pact on the state’s grain crop.

Dairy farm­ers also helped un­der­pin the state’s pos­i­tive ru­ral sen­ti­ment, with bet­ter sea­sonal con­di­tions and farm gate milk prices ex­pected to sup­port im­proved on­farm prof­itabil­ity.

The sur­vey, com­pleted last month, found while the net Vic­to­rian Ru­ral Con­fi­dence in­dex fell to seven per cent (from last quar­ter’s strong read­ing of 26 per cent), the ma­jor­ity of the state’s farm­ers (57 per cent) ex­pected con­di­tions in the agri­cul­tural economy to re­main the same as the past 12 months.

A smaller pro­por­tion (24 per cent, from 34 per cent in the previous sur­vey) ex­pected con­di­tions to im­prove, while those ex­pect­ing the agri­cul­tural economy to de­te­ri­o­rate in­creased to 17 per cent (from eight per cent).

Rabobank’s Tas­ma­nia and south­ern Vic­to­ria re­gional man­ager Hamish McAlpin said with wide­spread rain fall­ing in Vic­to­ria in early to mid-Au­gust, the turn­around in sea­sonal con­di­tions might not have been fully cap­tured in the sur­vey.

‘‘Af­ter an ex­cep­tion­ally dry June, there was cer­tainly an ele­ment of ner­vous­ness that win­ter could re­main dry and down­grade the po­ten­tial of the win­ter crop,’’ he said.

‘‘Thank­fully Au­gust brought with it the much-needed rain, with most of the state record­ing at least an inch of rain­fall, if not three to four inches, over a two-week pe­riod.’’

Across the state, grain pro­duc­ers were the most pos­i­tive about their prospects, with 36 per cent of grow­ers ex­pect­ing agri­cul­tural eco­nomic con­di­tions to im­prove and a fur­ther 61 per cent ex­pect­ing sim­i­lar con­di­tions to last sea­son.

‘‘The re­cent rains have con­sol­i­dated on the fan­tas­tic start to the crop­ping sea­son in au­tumn, with Vic­to­ria the only state on track to pro­duce an above-av­er­age win­ter crop,’’ he said.

With the three-month out­look from the Bu­reau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy point­ing to be­low­me­dian rain­fall for much of Vic­to­ria, Mr McAlpin warned that September and early Oc­to­ber rain­fall would be crit­i­cal to ‘‘ful­fil the po­ten­tial of crops in the ground’’.

Con­fi­dence was also rel­a­tively strong in the dairy sec­tor, with 37 per cent of the state’s dairy farm­ers hold­ing a pos­i­tive out­look for agri­cul­tural eco­nomic con­di­tions in the cur­rent sea­son.

In con­trast to re­cent sur­veys, Mr McAlpin said con­fi­dence had waned in the beef and, to a lesser ex­tent, sheep sec­tors.

‘‘The past 12 months have re­ally been ex­cep­tional for gra­ziers, with record prices, ex­cel­lent sea­sonal con­di­tions and lower in­put costs for fer­tiliser and fod­der,’’ he said.

The over­all fi­nan­cial health of Vic­to­ria’s agri-sec­tor was re­flected in gross farm in­come pro­jec­tions, with Vic­to­rian farm­ers more pos­i­tive about their cash flow for the com­ing fi­nan­cial year com­pared with their coun­ter­parts in other states.

The next re­sults are sched­uled for re­lease in De­cem­ber.

Rain on the hori­zon . . . Dark clouds hover over a Wunghnu crop in 2015. Late win­ter rain­fall has boosted con­fi­dence for farm­ers af­ter a very dry June.

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